All Jets players and staff were sent home Friday following a presumptive positive player test, according to ProFootballTalk and other reports.
The team did not immediately respond to the reports on Twitter; multiple sources told ProFootballTalk the player was retested. They did, however, release a statement Friday evening after learning all players, coaches and personnel tested negative.
Prior to the test results, questions lingered of whether Sunday's home game against the Arizona Cardinals was in jeopardy. In its statement, which promised to keep following the NFL's mandated safety protocols, the Jets said, "We look forward to our game this Sunday," as they avoid becoming the latest team afflicted by COVID diagnoses.
The Tennessee Titans have yet to get back on the field following an outbreak that has infected about two dozen team members, forcing an early bye and a Week 5 game delay.
While the Jets have not been affected by COVID in terms of their played games thus far, they've been impacted by mounting injuries and dismal showings that have a growing number of fans calling for Head Coach Adam Gase's firing. Former Ravens and Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco is set to get the start Sunday for an injured Sam Darnold, and while running back Le'Veon Bell has been permitted to return to practice with a hamstring injury that put him on injured reserve after the first game of the season, he's not yet ready for game action.
Both the Jets and Giants are 0-4 for the first time since 1976 — the only other time they've gotten off to similar dismal starts. They've never both opened a season 0-5, but both have a shot at that dubious distinction. They're underdogs in Week 5: the Jets at home against Arizona and the Giants at NFC East rival Dallas.
“I think it’s a joke,” said Rob Janicke, a 47-year-old Jets fan from Staten Island. "I know location doesn’t mean what it once did years ago, but having two utterly embarrassing teams in the NYC area is unacceptable. The ownership groups of both teams have been pretty clueless for a long time now. Bad drafts, poor hires and not allowing real football people to run the show. I know there’s a long way to go — assuming they play the full season — this year, but both the Jets and Giants may be in a race for the first overall pick in next year’s draft.
“That’s not what you want for two teams in the biggest market in the world.”
Many Jets fans want to see Gase gone, convinced he's not the right person to lead Darnold to the next step in his progression. Others point to ownership -- some to general manager Joe Douglas for not doing enough to put together a competitive roster. Still others half-jokingly believe this is all part of some curse brought about by Joe Namath's infamous Super Bowl guarantee back in 1969.
Stephan Pechdimaldji is a 46-year-old resident of San Ramon, California, who rooted for the Jets while growing up on Long Island and then northern New Jersey before moving to the West Coast in 2006. His passion for his favorite team hasn't waned with his move across the country, but his frustration is clear — even 3,000 miles away.
“While I realize that the Johnsons will never sell the team, I do think that it all starts from the top," Pechdimaldji said. "Jets fans are a resilient bunch, but I’ve never seen the fan base so despondent and down. And I lived through the Kotite years. Hopefully, they can right this ship at some point, but Jets fans are not collectively holding our breaths.”