**FILE** FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Washington Football Team defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, linebacker David Mayo, defensive end William Bradley-King and tight end Temarrick Hemingway were added to the reserve/COVID list, the team announced Monday afternoon. It’s a major loss for the team, particularly with the loss of Allen who has amassed 45 tackles and 7.5 sacks in this, his fifth season in the league. Washington faced multiple COVID cases this summer, then made it through 13 weeks of the regular season without another incident.

Before Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the division-leading Cowboys, Washington had won four consecutive games. They still hold the NFC’s third wild-card spot and remain tied with four teams at 6-7, including Philadelphia. But with new cases of COVID, their chances of holding on to a playoff berth could be in jeopardy. And they’re not alone. Other NFL teams have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases since the start of their Week 14 games with 37 players being placed on reserve lists with positive cases across the league as of Monday. More than two-dozen additional cases had been identified Tuesday. Prior to Monday, the highest single-day new case count during the NFL regular season had been 18. 

In addition, a Tier 3 Washington Football Team staffer also tested positive for the first-known case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the NFL on Monday. The news comes on the heels of the NFL announcing the biggest addition to the reserve/COVID-19 list since the list’s creation last year. 

Now, it’s not just injuries that can decimate a team and lessen their opportunity to move to the playoffs and, hopefully, the promised land – The Super Bowl. Teams and their fans must now hope that COVID-19 will not impact its players and personnel. 

It’s unclear whether those who have tested positive were vaccinated but many athletes have refused to get the shot citing all kinds of reasons. Some have even falsely said they have been vaccinated. 

It’s just a wonder that as much as professional athletes seem to enjoy being in the spotlight and revered as leaders in their respective cities, that they don’t seem willing to lead us in tackling this virus by getting vaccinated. Maybe we’re just expecting too much. 

Oh, and lest we forget, the U.S. just reported the death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 800,000. And more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available. 

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