Lions say QB Stafford had false-pos­i­tive test

Never had COVID-19, he’s back with team

National Post (National Edition) - - SPORTS - JOHN KRYK in Toronto Postmedia News JoKryk@postmedia.com Twit­ter: @JohnKryk

Matthew Stafford is back with his Detroit Lions team­mates and coaches. Turns out, he never had COVID-19, according to the Lions.

The vet­eran quar­ter­back reg­is­tered a false pos­i­tive test late last week and was placed on the Lions’ re­serve/ COVID-19 list on Satur­day. He was of­fi­cially moved back to the ac­tive list on Tues­day.

In a state­ment the Lions ex­plained why:

“As a re­sult of a false-pos­i­tive test re­sult, he was forced due to NFL/NFLPA pro­to­cols to sit out un­til he re­ceived two neg­a­tive tests. His test­ing se­quence for the pre-entry pe­riod was: neg­a­tive, neg­a­tive, false-pos­i­tive. The next three tests were all neg­a­tive.

“To be clear, Matthew does NOT have COVID-19 and never has had COVID-19 and the test in ques­tion was a false-pos­i­tive. Also, all of Matthew’s fam­ily have been tested and ev­ery­one is neg­a­tive.”

False-pos­i­tive COVID-19 tests are rare, but do hap­pen. As an ex­am­ple, Pub­lic Health On­tario said that as of May 23 false-pos­i­tives had been reg­is­tered on only about 20 of 228,000 tests (0.0088 per cent) done in the prov­ince to that point.

So far in train­ing camps, NFL play­ers are be­ing tested daily, via lower nasal swab tests, rather than the “brain tick­ling” long-swab, deep-nasal tests com­mon ev­ery­where dur­ing the early weeks of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Re­ports say lower nasal swab tests are no less re­li­able than the more in­va­sive types; they’re ac­cu­rate in de­tect­ing the virus more than 90 per cent of the time.

Stafford, 32, missed the last half of last season with back and hip in­juries, from which he says he’s fully re­cov­ered.

ON BEN’S EL­BOW

How damaged was the right throw­ing el­bow of Pittsburgh Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger last September, be­fore he shut him­self down for the season?

Big Ben told re­porters Tues­day on a video con­fer­ence call that he’d had “a lit­tle bit of an in­jury in that el­bow for quite a few years,” but it was never bad enough to side­line him. It never even both­ered him ev­ery day, he said, and was “just some­thing that was never se­ri­ous enough” for surgery or sidelin­ing.

But in a Week 2 loss last season to Seat­tle, Roeth­lis­berger felt mat­ters wors­en­ing, un­til a deep throw to JuJu Smith-Schus­ter RE­ALLY messed things up. He said he instantly felt pain shoot up his right arm.

That was it. Big Ben was done for 2019.

Turns out, he tore three of five flexor ten­dons “off the bone” and had to un­dergo a type of surgery that he said “he be­lieves no QB has ever come back from.” There’s “no real name for it,” Roeth­lis­berger said.

The three ten­dons each had to be sur­gi­cally reat­tached to his el­bow.

“From what I’ve been told, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly … it’s never hap­pened to a quar­ter­back, to this mag­ni­tude,” the two-time Su­per Bowl win­ner said.

That is, quar­ter­backs have torn one or two ten­dons clear off the bone, but not three.

Yikes.

Roeth­lis­berger, now 38, said he could have re­tired but “I just didn’t feel I was done play­ing foot­ball … If it was a thought, it wasn’t a long one.”

Then he elab­o­rated on his mo­ti­va­tion for this year and, he hopes, a few years more:

“If I felt I was closer to the end (of my ca­reer), it would have been more of a de­ci­sion for me, to think longer about com­ing back or not. But I just didn’t feel I was close to that yet. I’m not say­ing I’ve got 10 years left in me, but I def­i­nitely feel like I’ve got some re­ally good years left in me.

“That was def­i­nitely a mo­ti­vat­ing factor, to come back and show that I still have a lot left in the tank, I still have a lot to give this team, I still have a lot to give the fans. And I still want to win Lom­bardis. And I say that with a plu­ral on the end.”

Roeth­lis­berger said he has been throw­ing well for more than two months.

“My arm feels re­ally good. I threw a lot of balls yes­ter­day. I woke up to­day and it feels re­ally great.

“The plan is still to pitch­count through train­ing camp … Just to see how it’s go­ing to feel … Right now we’re just work­ing on tim­ing with re­ceivers, tight ends and run­ning backs.”

What’s more, Roeth­lis­berger said he has shed some weight.

“I’m prob­a­bly lighter than I’ve been in 13, 14 years … I’m just re­ally ex­cited about the season.”

Roeth­lis­berger was listed at 240 pounds in 2019.

GRE­GORY SHAMUS / GETTY IM­AGES

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions was of­fi­cially moved back to the team’s ac­tive list on Tues­day after he tested neg­a­tive sev­eral times for COVID-19.

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