NFL Freaks Out Over MRSA Infected Athletes

A recent spate of MRSA cases on one NFL team has the league freaking out on the matter.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers MRSA

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have more to worry about than sloppy plays like this fumble: They currently have three players infected with MRSA, a superbug.  (Image Source:  Reuters)

At the end of a game on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League did what any visiting team would do, especially after a loss:  Clean up, pack up, and leave as quickly as possible.  But the Bucs faced a greater insult to injury right after they left:  The Atlanta Falcons, the team they were visiting, ordered a hazmat team into Bucs' locker room to disinfect and decontaminate it, on fears that players on the team may in fact have the "superbug" MRSA, and do not want it to spread.  While the team is reeling from the loss of key players due to MRSA, the NFL's actions have turned a somewhat terrible team into lepers, and their actions may express a bit of overkill on the league's part.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria shown to be resistant to almost all antibiotics.  The severity of MRSA can vary from a simple skin infection to severe infections that end up killing the person.  Found initially in hospitals, the bacteria is starting to spread outside, existing primarily in enclosed, dense spaces where bodily fluids are exerted regularly.  These include gyms and locker rooms.

The Tampa Bay Bucaneers have suffered greatly from three players being sidelined with MRSA.  Two of the players, Carl Nicks and Lawrence Tynes, were diagnosed during the preseason in August 2013.  Only Nicks has been on the active roster this season, and had surgery performed to clear the infection after a recurrence.  However, concern picked up when a third player, Johnthan Banks, received an MRSA diagnosis before last week's game with the Philadelphia Eagles, also a loss.

Following the third MRSA diagnosis, the NFL was pushing hard on the Tampa Bay Bucaneers to do something about the situation, and forced them to at least disinfect the team's locker rooms at their home stadium, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, with the suggestion that future home games may be moved or postponed until the situation cleared up.  The Bucs did so twice as a precautionary measure.  But that the Atlanta Falcons, who happen to share a hometown with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, then went out of their way to ensure there was no MRSA in their locker rooms seems to be a bit of an overkill.

The NFL needs to tamp down on the actions, and just make sure the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doing all they can to minimize the spread of infection.  It just seems incredibly unlikely that a team will carry MRSA with them to visiting teams.  The Bucs have enough trouble as it is this season by still being winless six games into the season.  They do not also need to be treated as lepers.

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