Before getting to the usual column, a word about today’s breaking news of positive COVID-19 tests shutting down team activities in the NFL:
Despite all the vigilance that the NFL and its players have shown, it was inevitable that COVID-19 would rear its head with a group of players and/or team personnel. That has now happened with the Titans and, by extension, their opponent on Sunday, the Vikings. It is way too early for alarm, as this “abundance of caution” (keeping teams out of their facilities) is what we have all prepared for. But as I said throughout the offseason, playing through the pandemic is no sure thing. The NFL has powered through with confidence since March: Free agency, the draft and training camp all went full speed ahead with necessary testing and precautions. And the first month of the season seemed surprisingly normal, with the biggest COVID-19 story line being whether coaches should be fined for not wearing masks properly. Yet here we are, and it is naive to think we won’t be here again. As the theme of this and so many of my other columns says, the business of sports usually wins, and it has won with the NFL … so far. Time will tell going forward.
Now where were we?
News moves fast in the business of football, as developments in this unprecedented and unique season amid COVID-19 continue. We begin with a stunning—although not surprising—reversal in college football.
Big Ten business over all
In August, the Big Ten surprisingly (to me) prioritized the health and safety of its players and staff over economics by opting not to play in 2020. The decision resonated as 1) other Power 5 conferences (the SEC, Big 12 and ACC) reached the opposite decision; and 2) the economic impact