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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

(Newser) – "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."

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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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