INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich wasn’t taking any chances.
As he prepared for his Wednesday Zoom conference call with the local media, he nearly reached for the face-covering he wears on game day.
“I didn’t want to get called out,’’ he said.
To the point, Reich didn’t want to join a list of his peers who didn’t heed the NFL’s rule that requires coaches to wear a face-covering on the sideline.
We’re two weeks into the season and the league has fined five coaches and their teams for not adhering to the face-covering rule: Denver’s Vic Fangio, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden and New Orleans’ Sean Payton. Each coach was levied a $100,000 fine. Each team was docked $250,000.
The fines came after the NFL issued a warning following week 1.
Reich was joking about appearing on the video conference call with his mask but takes the rule seriously. He estimated he tried 20 different ones before settling on the style he wore at Jacksonville and last Sunday against Minnesota.
The mask can make play-calling and any conversation with coaches more difficult.
“It just takes a little bit more annunciation and speaking a little bit louder,’’ Reich said. “But it’s fine. You adjust to it and make it work.’’
It’s been suggested the NFL is worried about the “optics” of coaches not wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. All coaches and players are tested daily, so all personnel on the sidelines should be COVID-free.
“To say it’s optics could be taken as more of a negative statement,’’ Reich said, “but the NFL has a huge platform. So, optics is important at some level. We’re trying to set an example for our country, so I respect the fact that the league is really running a tight ship on this stuff, with the testing.
“It’s really been a tight ship and I think our players and coaches have said, ‘Whatever the league wants, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not going to complain about it. We’re just going to do it.’’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.