Oct 26, 2021 - Sports

Bears tackled by COVID-19 outbreak

Football coach.

Caption: Head coach Matt Nagy stands on the sidelines during a game against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Photo: Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Bears head coach Matt Nagy has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be away from the team until clearing protocols, the organization announced yesterday.

Why it matters: Nagy becomes the seventh Bears coach or player to enter COVID protocol over the last two weeks. If the Bears cannot field a team for their game on Sunday, they may have to forfeit.

Between the lines: Because Nagy is vaccinated, he will have to produce two negative tests within 24 hours to be able to coach on Sunday instead of the minimum 10-day absence the NFL mandates for those unvaccinated.

What's at stake: The NFL has said teams with COVID outbreaks won't be able to reschedule their games, instead hoping the threat of forfeit would entice organizations to get their players and staff vaccinated.

  • But it remains unclear if that rule will be enforced, since it was related to unvaccinated individuals, not vaccinated breakthrough cases.

The big picture: The Bears have seen a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated players test positive, including:

  • Damien Williams - The running back was in line to start for the injured David Montgomery two weeks ago. Instead, he tested positive and reportedly was unvaccinated, but is now off the COVID list.
  • Robert Quinn - One of the team's best defensive players, he tested positive late last week and missed yesterday's game vs. Tampa Bay. He is reportedly vaccinated.
  • Elijah Wilkerson - The starting right tackle was a last-minute scratch yesterday after his results came back positive. No word on his vaccination status.
  • Jimmy Graham - The tight end also sat out yesterday after being added to the list. No word on whether he tested positive or was deemed a close contact.
  • Caleb Johnson - The backup inside linebacker was placed on the COVID/Reserve list on Sunday.

Context: The Bears have become the latest team this season to have several players and coaches out because of the virus, though only one head coach, Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals, has missed a game this season.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: On Sunday, the Bears relied on a third string tackle, running back and linebacker to try and stop Tom Brady and the Bucs — who incidentally boast a 100% vaccination rate among players and coaches. It didn't work.

  • The Bears are proving to be unprepared not only on the field, but also in the locker room.

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