Saints Pay for Maskless Celebration

New Orleans also loses a draft pick
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2020 11:25 AM CST
NFL Fines Team $500K Over Mask Violations
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees celebrates with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders near the end of their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 8, 2020, in Tampa.   (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

"All players and staff must wear masks or double-layered gaiters in the locker room on gameday—prior to the game, during halftime, and post-game," the NFL told teams on Nov. 3. On Nov. 8, the New Orleans Saints celebrated their victory over Tampa Bay without wearing masks. That has now cost the team $500,000 and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick, ESPN reports. The Saints and couple of players posted videos online of the celebration in the locker room that have since been removed. The celebration itself wasn't a problem, a league official said Sunday, "It was actions in the video with unmasked players in the locker room after the game."

The Saints plan to appeal, saying other teams have celebrated without masks and haven't been punished as severely. But New Orleans was a repeat offender, per the AP; head coach Sean Payton was fined $150,000, and the team $250,000, when Payton didn't keep his face covered properly in a game early in the season. The Saints had been warned that any more violations of COVID-19 protocols would bring bigger penalties. Three coaches were fined $100,000 each over mask violations in September. Also, the Raiders were hit with a $500,000 fine over protocols; coach Jon Gruden was fined $150,000, and the team lost a sixth-round pick. (Broncos lose all their quarterbacks to coronavirus exposure.)

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