The NFL officially has its first known of the coronavirus, and it is one of the most recognizable people in the sport who has tested positive.
Sean Payton told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The New Orleans Saints coach said he chose to go public with his diagnosis because he wants to stress to people the importance of following social distancing guidelines.
Saints’ HC Sean Payton tested positive for the coronavirus, he told ESPN on Thursday. Payton is the first person in the NFL world known to test positive for the virus.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2020
Payton told Schefter he began to feel ill last Sunday and was tested for the coronavirus on Monday. He received his results on Thursday and will be quarantined in his house through the weekend. Payton said he has been in good spirits and did not experience a fever or cough.
“This is not just about social distancing,” Payton said. “It’s shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It’s not complicated to do what they’re asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.
“I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I’m lucky. Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can’t handle it. So we all need to do our part. It’s important for every one of us to do our part.”
There have been several positive coronavirus tests for NBA players and at least two at the minor league baseball level, but Payton’s is the first known coronavirus case to hit the NFL. There may be others who have tested positive, but they have not come forward.
Payton’s revelation came not long after a photo of Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice went viral, and it appeared to show the former LSU star not practicing social distancing. There have been several other examples of people not following guidelines put in place by federal and local officials, and Payton’s positive coronavirus case is another reminder of how widespread the pandemic has become.