Il Cleveland Browns playoff celebrations were cut short on Tuesday after the team announced that head coach Kevin Stefanki, two players and two other staffers would miss Sunday’s historic game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Browns released a statement late Tuesday morning that Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the acting head coach on Sunday after a number of positive cases turned up.
“The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, two additional members of the coaching staff and two players have tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement began.
“Our facility is currently closed while contact tracing is taking place. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts to determine the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, allenatori, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”
The bad news came just days after the Browns secured their first playoff game since the 2002 stagione — ending the league’s longest playoff drought with a 24-22 over the Steelers.
The Browns will be without Stefanski, Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and two coaching staff members — tight ends coach Drew Petzing and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard. Cleveland already had six players and three other assistants on the reserve COVID-19 list.
The NFL told The Associated Press that Sunday’s game will continue as scheduled and that the league found no evidence that any Steelers players were exposed.
“If any players or personnel are identified as such, they would remain apart from the team and facilities for five days from the last exposure to a positive individual,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email. “They would be eligible to return to the team and play in the game.”
Stefanski will be able to work remotely with the team this week but a win on Sunday will hold significant value for the Browns, whose last playoff appearance resulted in a loss against Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 2003.
L'Associated Press ha contribuito a questo rapporto.