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NFL, Titans Hit By COVID-19

Realistically, it was likely only a matter of time. On Tuesday, the National Football League announced one of its teams, the Tennessee Titans, had multiple members of its organization test positive for COVID-19.

According to ESPN, four players (starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson) and five members of the Titans’ team personnel have all tested positive. Tennessee played and defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Vikings have reported no positive tests this week.

As a precaution, however, both teams have closed their practice facilities and are communicating virtually. Minnesota announced it will likely reopen its facilities tomorrow, while the Titans have closed their facilities through Saturday.

The result is that the NFL has made changes in its schedule. Because of the Vikings’ negative test results, their game Sunday at Houston will be played as scheduled. The NFL announced Wednesday, however, that Tennessee’s home game scheduled for Sunday against Pittsburgh will now be played Monday or Tuesday, with a definitive day and time announced soon.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the NFL has largely taken a ‘business as usual’ approach. It conducted its draft in April as scheduled, albeit virtually. The league scrapped all pre-season games, but made no adjustments to its regular season schedule, even as the college football teams playing this fall allowed for ‘bye weeks’ in which games could and already have been rescheduled.

I wanted to get a gauge on the reaction to the positive tests, given this stance the NFL has taken. And what better tool than Social Studio to analyze.

To conduct this search, the keywords “NFL” and “COVID,” “Titans,” “Titans” and “COVID,” as well as “Titans” and “corona” were searched for. This allowed for possible mentions that pertained directly to the topic studied. An initial search turned up multiple mentions of the term “cash4tacha,” completely unrelated to the sought after topic, so this hashtag was removed from the search.

This search turned up 518,000 social media posts as of 9 pm ET on Sept. 30. Not surprisingly, 91.6% of that came via Twitter, of which more is publicly accessible by Social Studio. Perhaps most telling about the conversation is the word cloud, which captures the most common words and phrases used with the keywords searched.

Interestingly, there is not one clear influencer, with the influencer score provided by Social Studio. There are 19 accounts that have a score of 98, four of which are accounts run by ESPN.

It’s also telling that according to Social Studio, social media posts with the searched keywords have a sentiment of 60.1% positive. Over the past seven days, the posts have been overwhelmingly positive every day, except yesterday, when the news first was revealed about the positive tests. There were 8,079 posts that were positive, while 8,028 were negative. This may or may not have the importance as it seems, however, as many posts include the word ‘positive,’ in addressing the tests.

As of Wednesday night, a makeup date and time have not been announced. This was the first bout of COVID-19 the NFL has dealt with, but it likely won’t be the last. We’ll monitor that, as well as other news in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center.