The Broncos had one of the most memorable COVID-related problems during the 2020 NFL season when backup quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for the virus. Denver’s other three signal callers — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — all ended up being close contacts of Driskel after they spent time together without wearing masks.
At the time, Lock referred to the situation as an “honest mistake.” However, it may not have been after all.
The Broncos’ quarterbacks apparently tried to circumvent the league’s COVID protocols, reports Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. That’s why the league ultimately refused to let the Broncos postpone the game.
John Elway, Denver’s president of football operations, made several frustrated pleas to Goodell to postpone the Sunday game until Tuesday, when the quarterbacks would be available. The league denied those requests because surveillance video from Denver’s facility showed the quarterbacks had tried to fool the system. They had removed their contact-tracing devices and put them in the four corners of the meeting room, then they sat together to watch film. That close contact automatically made them ineligible to play.
Needless to say, that’s not a good look for those players. It also further explains why the league decided to make an example out of them despite postponing several other games because of COVID-related issues.
The Broncos were forced to start practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton as a result of their quarterback room’s indiscretion. Hinton had been a college quarterback, so he was Denver’s best option at the position.
His performance was about what you’d expect from an emergency quarterback. He completed just 1 of 9 passes for 13 yards and two interceptions. The Broncos lost 31-3 at the hands of the Saints.
The Hinton game will be used as a cautionary tale for the league this year. The NFL said in its COVID-related operating procedures for 2021 that “games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group.”