The NFL’s expensive mask justice is about to get a lot worse

The NFL is cracking down on coaches flouting the league’s mask policy by issuing more than $1 million in fines with more pocketbook penalties expected.

Three head coaches – Vic Fangio in Denver, Pete Carroll in Seattle and Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco – were doled out fines of $100,000 by the NFL for not wearing face coverings during Sunday’s games, league sources told ESPN.

Each team was also docked $250,000 apiece, bringing the league-wide punishment tally to $1,050,000. But more fines could be on the way after both coaches during Monday night’s game – the Raiders’ Jon Gruden and Saints’ Sean Payton – worked the sidelines without properly covering up, ESPN reports. Bill Belichick could also be fined, though it is unclear why the NFL had yet to make the decision on the Patriots coach.

Gruden, who revealed after the game that he previously had COVID-19, wore his mask like a chin strap for some of the game. Payton, who was one of the first NFL figures to test positive for coronavirus, used his neck gaiter more like a turtleneck.

Gruden later put on a mask as the game went on, USA Today reports.

“I’m doing my best,” Gruden said after the Raiders’ 34-24 win. “I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations, and if I get fined, I’ll have to pay the fine, but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.”

Belichick wore an unorthodox mask during Sunday’s game that led some to mock him online.

“Bill Belichick wears a mask like an old man who was just handed one and was given the choice between putting it on or getting kicked out of Walmart,” one tweet read.

Other offenders from Sunday include Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Colts coach Frank Reich and Rams coach Sean McVay, the Associated Press reports.

The fines came a week after the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, sent a memo to league coaches reminding them to “remain vigilant and disciplined” regarding the league’s mask policy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, meanwhile, said the fines were “consistent” with the league’s guidance already put in place well prior to Week 2.

“You can’t let up,” Goodell told USA Today late Monday. “We’ve got to consistently do the things that have gotten us to this place and not think, ‘Okay, things have gone so well, so it’s okay now.’ It’s not. You’ve got to stay on your toes and we’ve got to continue to be disciplined.”

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