Matthew Stafford’s false-positive test: A sign of trouble ahead?

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions remove Matthew Stafford from COVID-IR following false-positive test

Last week, the Detroit Lions placed eight players on their reserve/COVID-19 list. This was a result of a player either testing positive for the virus or being in close contact with someone who has it. One of the players who landed on that list was quarterback Matthew Stafford.

After posting negative test results twice last week, Stafford reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. As a result, the Motor City’s longtime passer was placed on the team’s new COVID-IR list.

But on Tuesday, the Lions released a statement indicating Stafford does not have COVID-19 after all. His positive test result from last week was, in fact, a false-positive. And that three additional negative tests have now confirmed that Stafford does not have the virus … and never did.

While this is wonderful news for Stafford and his immediate family, who have all since tested negative for COVID-19, this does highlight a known flaw in the testing that could have major repercussions when the NFL regular season begins.

Say, for instance, this false-positive result had occurred the Friday before a regular-season game. Stafford would have once again been placed on the Lions’ reserve/COVID-19 list and forced to miss the contest, putting the team in a very difficult position. Now, imagine the fallout from discovering post-game that Stafford did not have the virus at all and it was a testing error.

Now, what if the playoffs were on the line? What if the false-positive result was issued the Friday before to the Super Bowl? Remove Stafford’s name from this scenario completely and insert any NFL starting quarterback or vital player’s name here. This is just one of the many challenges the league will face in attempting to play competitive football amid a worldwide pandemic.

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This false-positive incident involving Matthew Stafford only highlights the importance of regular testing combined with timely and accurate results for the NFL this season. While this report is undoubtedly great news for Stafford, his family, the team, and all fans of the Detroit Lions; it might better serve as a warning sign for potential trouble ahead.