Covid protocols put sports stars on the sidelines

Two of the leagues have been forced to postpone games due to outbreaks and all three are losing key players due to the Covid-19 protocols. They include the man who dropped 50 points in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a former NBA MVP and a three-time NFL Pro Bowler.

But they weren’t the only players sent to the sidelines as the number of players testing positive — like Covid-19 case numbers in the US — is on the rise.

Here’s a look at Tuesday’s Covid news from the three big professional sports leagues:

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo — the reigning NBA Finals MVP — became the latest prominent player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols. He will miss Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, according to the Bucks’ injury report.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets announced ahead of their game Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors that their list of players in the protocols has grown to seven with the addition of star James Harden.

The team is already missing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who has yet to play this season because he is not adhering to a vaccine mandate in New York City.

On Monday, the NBA postponed games for the first time this season because of Covid-19.

With 10 players and additional staff members in the health and safety protocols, the Chicago Bulls scheduled games for Tuesday and Thursday were postponed. And the team’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday was moved from 2:30 p.m. CT to 7 p.m.

The Lakers canceled practice in Los Angeles on Tuesday. No reason was given but according to ESPN, the decision was due to Covid-19 concerns.

ESPN reported the practice was canceled after guard Talen Horton-Tucker returned a positive coronavirus test, citing a team announcement.

Horton-Tucker is now on the Lakers health and safety protocols list.

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Players in the protocol must quarantine for 10 days or have two negative tests in a 24-hour period. Bulls players have entered the protocols on different days over the past weeks.

A league source told CNN last week that 97% of NBA players are vaccinated, with 60% of eligible players having received a booster shot. There are about 500 players across 30 rosters.

No major professional sports league in the United States has required its players to be vaccinated.

Rams star receiver joins 12 teammates on list

A National Football League source told CNN that 28 players tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday.

The news comes a day after the league saw 37 positive tests among players Monday. The two-day total more than doubles the 29 positive tests from players between November 14-27, the last publicly released testing data from the NFL.

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Among dozens of additions to the league’s Covid-19/Reserve list, the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams were most heavily impacted. The Browns added eight players to the list while the Rams added seven. The Los Angeles Rams later announced an additional two players would be headed to the list.

The Browns’ Tuesday additions included five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and two-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper.

“We are in the intensive protocols, which means you are wearing masks in the building, virtual meetings, cafeteria is just grab and go and those type of things, but we will get our work in,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Tuesday. “That is what we do. We have done it before. We will have our virtual meetings, and then when we are on the practice field, we will make sure that we are locked in and ready to go.”

The Rams’ Tuesday additions were headlined by three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who scored a touchdown in the team’s Monday night win over the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams also removed tight end Tyler Higbee from the list, but 13 Rams players currently remain sidelined including players that were added previously.

“We had to close our building down. This Covid thing has taken over kind of all the things that we’re dealing with right now,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said Tuesday. “We’re in intensive protocols. We’re remote today. We will be remote tomorrow.”

The NFL describes the Covid-19/Reserve list as being for players who either test positive for Covid-19 or who have been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. Per NFL-NFL Players Association policy, clubs are not permitted to comment on player’s medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for Covid-19.

NHL’s Hurricanes in turmoil

The NHL postponed Tuesday night’s game between Carolina and the Minnesota Wild due to multiple Hurricanes’ players testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Hurricanes have six players in the league’s Covid protocol. The NHL announced Tuesday that Ian Cole, Steven Lorentz, Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov tested positive for the virus.

On Monday, the team revealed Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff entered protocol while the team was in Vancouver, Canada. The Hurricanes lost to the Canucks 2-1 on Sunday.

Tuesday’s postponed game was slated to be played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The NHL has postponed nine games this season due to Covid-19 protocols.

The Calgary Flames, who on Monday postponed their next three games, now have nine players in the league’s Covid protocol with the addition of three players — Noah Hanifin, Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan — on Tuesday. One staff member is also in the protocol.

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On Monday morning, the Flames, who are second in the Pacific Division, announced Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson, Adam Ruzicka, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov were the first six players who entered protocol.

Flames General Manager Brad Treliving said “so far guys are feeling good” when asked whether all the players were asymptomatic.

The impacted games have yet to be rescheduled.

The Boston Bruins played their home game Tuesday night against the Las Vegas Knights but they were without two of their top wingers, Brad Marchand and Craig Smith, who were put into the NHL Covid protocol.

According to media reports, the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers each had a player enter the protocol on Tuesday.

In addition, the Vancouver Canucks said three players were put on the list before Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks and one was pulled from the game and placed in the protocol.

CNN’s Kevin Dotson, Jill Martin and David Close contributed to this report.

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