The best news of all is that Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson is healthy and that he has no symptoms from COVID-19, for which he tested positive, the team announced on Sunday night. Pederson is in quarantine in his South Jersey home, staying away from his wife and children, continuing to oversee his football team from his virtual position and very thankful for his support team, the medical care available to him, and for all of the best wishes he's received since the news broke.
With Pederson absent from the NovaCare Complex for either 10 days since the time of his negative test or until he has two negative tests in a span of five days after his first positive test, Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Duce Staley runs the day-to-day operations in South Philadelphia with the entire squad assembled and taking part in meetings, strength and conditioning workouts, and on-field walkthroughs.
"One of the things I learned this offseason is I can still run the team virtually, and that's what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I'm very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building," Pederson said in a teleconference with Eagles reporters. "It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.
"So obviously we're taking this very seriously around our building, and in our everyday lives, and again, we need to continue to do so. We understand that things like this are going to happen. I have been able to talk to my staff about contingencies not only with players, but also with staff members. I mentioned I believe last week when we got together about this. I'm not going to speculate on a timetable for me, I treat it just like players, so I'm not going to speculate on that. When I'm back, I'm back."
Pederson's contraction of the virus is a reminder to everyone in this world that COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is a threat to all of us, so wearing a mask in public, around crowds, and even around the family is important. Good hand hygiene is essential. Avoiding risky situations is important.
Anyone who enters the NovaCare Complex is required to wear a mask, with no exceptions. Pederson caught COVID-19 somehow, somewhere.
And now he's sidelined.
"The message still is we have to protect ourselves, not only in and around the building, but outside the building, as well," Pederson said. "But you know what the thing is, too, is that it's never been – since I've been head coach in Philadelphia, it's never been about one guy or one group of guys. It's been about everybody. This is no different. I'm fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our Training Camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It's a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don't change. We're going to continue to press forward one day at a time."
Pederson said he would "consider" the idea of quarantining a quarterback during the course of the season and that such "conversations are ongoing still," but nothing is concrete. The Eagles, along with every NFL team, have to consider every possible scenario here. Nobody is immune, necessarily, from COVID-19. Safeguards must be in place should any more coaches or players test positive for the virus.
We're still very much in the early stages of Training Camp at the NovaCare Complex. The players aren't in pads until August 17. This is early "install" stuff the players are learning in the classrooms and then walking through on the field. Players are tested every day for another couple of weeks before the testing becomes every other day. The league and the teams are doing everything possible to keep the players, coaches and staff safe.
Yet, Pederson became the second NFL head coach – after Saints Head Coach Sean Payton in the spring – to test positive for coronavirus.
"My confidence hasn't changed at all. I'm extremely optimistic. I feel like we're going to play (this season); I'm confident that we are going to play. It's unfortunate," Pederson said. "Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn't matter. It can affect any one of us. I'm sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn't matter.
"It's just the fact that we have to abide by the protocols that are in place. They are in place for a reason, for our safety. Our building is a great place to be. It is a safe place to be for our players and coaches and all who are involved. So, I'm looking forward. It's full steam ahead for me. I'm itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season."