Report: Broncos wanted coach to play QB amid COVID-19 outbreak, but NFL said no

Liz Roscher
·3 min read

The Denver Broncos are dealing with a bonkers situation due to COVID-19, and they reportedly came up with an equally bonkers solution. Unfortunately, the NFL hates fun and wouldn’t let it happen.

The Broncos, without a single quarterback on the roster after all of them were either placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list or deemed high-risk contacts, apparently wanted one of their coaches to start at QB against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos felt that offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese was the best option to start. Since he works so closely with the offense, he’d know it better than anyone who wasn’t on the roster.

With so few options, it’s certainly a creative solution to a ridiculous problem. Since the NFL reportedly denied the Broncos’ repeated requests to postpone their Sunday game, they found a solution that they felt put their team in the best situation to win — or at least not get embarrassed. Calabrese was a quarterback in high school and college, playing at UCF from 2008-2012, so he’d at least know what he was doing.

It would have been incredible to see a coach start at quarterback, but the NFL reportedly put the kibosh on that idea. According to Schefter, the NFL “doesn't want coaching staffs being storage areas for potential players.”

Whenever a cool or interesting thing could happen, you can always count on the NFL to stamp it out quickly. The Broncos elevated wide receiver Kendall Hinton from the practice squad on Sunday and announced that he’ll be starting at QB on Sunday.

Why wouldn’t the NFL postpone Broncos vs. Saints?

One thing that may frustrate teams is not knowing why the NFL decides to postpone some games and not others. The reasons behind postponing Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens games are obvious, since they have large-scale breakouts among players and staff. But the decision-making behind other decisions is cloudy.

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; A detail view of a Denver Broncos helmet on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos wanted to start one of their coaches at quarterback on Sunday. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

For example, the New England Patriots had an outbreak in October when seven players, including quarterback Cam Newton, were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The NFL postponed New England’s Week 5 game twice. Yet commissioner Roger Goodell won’t postpone the Broncos’ game even though every single one of their rostered QBs aren’t available.

On the bright side, the Broncos aren’t being forced to forfeit. The NFL threatened earlier in the season that teams with serious COVID-19 violations could be forced to forfeit. With three of the Broncos’ four quarterbacks reportedly failing to consistently wear masks and tracking devices, that could have warranted the first official forfeit in NFL history. But the NFL is making them play. Considering the situation, that could be worse.

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