The NFL is taking the coronavirus seriously. Are the teams? Why this week was a wake-up call

5:40 PM ET

The Tennessee Titans‘ COVID-19 outbreak is not the end of the NFL’s 2020 season. It is the beginning of the most important part of it.

This week’s developments are shocking only to those who’d settled comfortably into the familiar rhythms of football season and forgotten the potentially impossible circumstances under which this one is being played. The NFL knew this was coming — a week in which the coronavirus infected one of its teams to the point where it had to consider postponing a game. It knows it’ll happen again. The NFL isn’t in charge of whether and in what order its games get played this season. The virus is. So the league will adjust the best it can, even if the solutions aren’t perfect or universally satisfactory.

But equity concerns aren’t as worrisome as existential ones, which is why this week has to be a wake-up call — a reminder to those who may have forgotten what’s going on in the wider world that there’s no way to shield the ever-insular NFL from it. As smoothly as training camp and the first few weeks of the season went, this is no time to relax, and

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