New NFL protocols regarding return to play may enable several Cleveland Browns players to suit up in time for the 5:00 p.m. kickoff versus the Raiders Monday, December 20.
The Cleveland Browns may catch a break based on new return-to-play rules that have been agreed to by Commission Goodell and the National Football League Players’ Association.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, the NFL will now use a new metric, “cycle threshold” (CT) to measure whether a player is contagious. Your humble correspondent is not a medical authority, so take this with a major grain of salt, but it seems as though the CT value is a measure of how contagious a person is, by determining the number of test cycles required to produce a positive result.
Thus a low CT low corresponds to a low viral load in the body of the person being tested.
In essence, the CT value can measure whether a player is still contagious, even if in some cases he would still test positive on a traditional test. Thus, with the Omicron variant, which for many people seems to produce milder symptoms, there might be some traces of the virus present, but the player has zero symptoms and is not contagious, there may not be a good rationale to force that player to isolate.
Hence two acceptable CT scores obtained via a test called a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, will allow a vaccinated, asymptomatic player to return to play.
An alternate test known as the Mesa is also acceptable. The difference between a PCR test and a Mesa test is not clear to this layman.
The key takeaway is that someone who tests positive in last week’s system may be negative in this week’s system. A list of players out due to Covid follows. We are not counting Drew Forbes and Kareen Hunt who have other injuries and would not be able to play.
Players who are not vaccinated aren’t going to be affected by the new rules. Those who believe they are immune, have religious objections, or are trying alternate medicine (hippie crystals, etc.), will still have to isolate for at least 10 days. It’s believed that not all Browns have been vaccinated. We aren’t naming names because we don’t know for a fact that they didn’t change their minds at some point.
Still, it’s an open issue whether the Browns should have signed free agents who weren’t vaccinated. In this fan’s view, it is a stupid policy to sign players who may not be available. Consider this a vote of no confidence in the hippie crystals that serve as an alternative to vaccination.
If we interpret the policy correctly as described by Graziano, immunized individuals no longer have a minimum five-day isolation period. If they are asymptomatic and test negative twice after testing positive, they are allowed to return to play immediately. It sounds like in theory that could be a three-day process, although that would be rare.
As of Sunday, there are 17 players on the Covid list, This is not a prediction, but it is possible that several players, including Baker Mayfield and/or Case Keenum, could be able to play.
If you’re wondering why WynnBET is back to favoring the Browns now after favoring the Raiders late in the week–and remember we are still showing 17 Browns on the Covid list -it makes sense to believe that the cavalry is not the way to rescue the Browns at the last minute. However, we don’t have access to insider information about specific names.
Stay tuned and pay attention to Twitter.