After an NFL Network reporter said Ravens receiver Dez Bryant did not have close contacts with other players despite warming up while COVID-19 positive, an apparent deleted tweet from a Ravens employee showed Bryant hugging members of the Cowboys before Tuesday night's game.
Bryant found out about his COVID-19 test result minutes before the contest and was pulled from the field. The game nonetheless started at its scheduled time.
Ryan Mink, the Ravens' editorial director, posted the picture of Bryant's embrace with the caption "lots of hugs between Dez Bryant and Cowboys players/coaches/staff early in warmups." Despite a flood of people in his mentions questioning why he removed the image, he has yet to address the matter. The team did not immediately respond to Sporting News' request for comment.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero had previously tweeted: "All other #Ravens players tested negative for COVID-19 and no high-risk close contacts were identified, source said."
It became apparent, though, that Bryant had mingled with fellow players. Whether his interactions were "high risk" — the main determinant of whether a game is postponed — is subject to debate.
The NFL as a general policy doesn't view brief interactions as problematic.
Seeing a lot of questions about close contacts, especially given photos of Dez Bryant hugging and interacting with Cowboys people before the game. Here's how "close contact" is defined in the NFL/NFLPA policy. Note that it does not include "brief interactions." pic.twitter.com/EMqK7NQNXT— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) December 9, 2020
NFL on Bryant hugging Cowboys personnel: "Standard protocol is to examine the device of the infected person for duration of time and proximity. Other factors include whether the interaction was indoors or outdoors. It was determined that there were no high-risk close contacts."— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) December 9, 2020
Baltimore has dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak over the past two weeks that has sidelined several key players, including Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram. The franchise had hoped it was past the worst of the spread entering Tuesday night's contest.