Denver Broncos QBs who became ineligible as close contacts tried to cheat NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, per report – USA TODAY

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The four Denver Broncos quarterbacks who were ruled to be ineligible for one contest last year after being deemed close contacts tried to game the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

In last season’s 31-3 Denver loss against the New Orleans Saints, practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton played the majority of snaps at quarterback.

That was because then-third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19. The Los Angeles Times detailed how then-starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad passer Blake Bortles also ended up as close contacts after surveillance footage from inside the Broncos team facility caught them trying to fool the league’s tracking system.

The Times reported that the players removed their contact tracing devices and put them in the four corners of the quarterback meeting room, but then sat together to watch film. The trackers, therefore, logged data that showed they were observing social distancing requirements when they were not.

Because they were deemed to be close contacts, they then were ineligible to play that week.

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Then-general manager John Elway made several pleas to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the Times reported, to postpone the game until the following Tuesday. Goodell denied the requests because of the evidence seen in the footage. 

The Broncos were then forced to elevate Hinton to quarterback, though running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman also got snaps in wildcat formations.

Hinton finished the game 1-of-9 for 13 yards with two interceptions.

After the game, Lock apologized for the violation of the protocols that led him to be ineligible.

“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time,” Lock wrote last November. “An honest mistake, but one I will own. I sincerely apologize and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for a majority of the time is not good enough.”

According to an ESPN report from last year, the Broncos appealed to the NFL to try to get quality control assistant Rob Calabrese signed off of the coaching staff into an emergency role as a player. The league denied the request, per the report. Calabrese at times played quarterback at UCF from 2008-12.