The topic of face masks took over Twitter during “Sunday Night Football,” but it wasn’t for any penalties on the field.
NBC commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wore masks throughout the broadcast as required by Santa Clara County in California. The Philadelphia Eagles stunned the San Francisco 49ers 25-20 there Sunday night.
But throughout the three hours, the two got in jabs at having to wear masks and complained about the situation.
Broadcasters required to wear masks by county rules
It was the first time this season the duo had to wear masks while calling the game. Michaels welcomed fans into the broadcast by explaining it was a requirement by Santa Clara County officials.
Jeffrey Smith, a Santa Clara official, told the San Francisco Chronicle it was indeed a county decision and not NBC.
“We wouldn’t want them to end up like the president,” Smith said, via the Chronicle.
The NFL has also dealt with cases this week. Tennessee Titans dealt had an outbreak that forced the postponement of their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs was pushed a day after each had a player test positive for COVID-19.
Michaels, Collinsworth keep up mask snark
The two were clearly not happy from the start about the situation.
— Jerry Coleman (@sportswcoleman) October 5, 2020
Michaels: “Santa Clara County officials have compelled us to wear masks during the game and so that is the story. I’m Al Michaels, you are—”
Collinsworth: “I don’t know who I am.”
As noted by the New York Daily News, they continued with complaints throughout the game. Collinsworth complained that his ears hurt and Michaels made a joke about being “good boys.”
“We’re good boys, though,” Michaels said, per the Daily News. “We’re going to get lollipops at the end of the game tonight.”
He made one last reference to the masks before signing off for the night.
“We’ll get rid of these things as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
The SNF crew is scheduled to be in Seattle next week when the Minnesota Vikings come to town. It’s the first week of flex scheduling.
SNF precautions for COVID-19
The notice for the booth seemed to be rather last minute since both were in surgical masks rather than a branded mask, or even just simple outfit-coordinated ones. Other members of the media were also required to have masks throughout the entire game.
It’s one of the few times we’ve seen broadcasters of any sport wear a mask. Some are in booths separated by a divider and space while others have been calling games remotely. Sideline reporters are the only ones we’ve seen in masks, even as they remain six feet away from the player or coach they’re interviewing.
SNF put in place precautions ahead of the season to keep broadcasters and crew safe. The famous “Collinsworth Slide,” where the namesake slides into the shot from outside the camera frame, is not allowed due to social distancing procedures. There are fewer crew members on site and there are more mobile trucks to keep everyone distanced.
All employees must have a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of kickoff that comes back negative and pass a temperature check on game day. They are also tested one more time during the week. Even though a test comes back negative, it does not mean the person doesn’t have COVID-19 at the time of the result; there is an incubation period and testing lag that makes it tricky.
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