NEW ORLEANS — With more than 20 players potentially sidelined due to injuries, COVID-19 concerns, and DUIs, the New Orleans Saints have one of the most depleted rosters in the NFL, and local hospitals are struggling to cope with the latest spike.
Nearly every hospital bed in the city was occupied by injured players, with many forced to sit in lobbies waiting to be seen by medical personnel. Helmets, shoulder pads, cleats and gloves lay strewn about the hallways.
The influx has caused disruptions and made it difficult for hospital staff to effectively treat the patients in their care. After a radiologic technologist successfully took an X-ray of a player with a broken arm, his teammates dumped a full cooler of Gatorade onto her, which short-circuited the machine, making it unusable.
“It’s like a warzone,” said Sarah Young, a nurse at Tulane Medical Center, as she removed a running back’s elbow sleeve to start an IV. “I haven’t heard about this many wounded saints since my catechism.”
The sheer volume of injuries has forced the team to take drastic steps to fill open slots on the roster. This week, head coach Sean Payton announced that he’d be putting fans wearing jerseys to the game out on the field.
“It’s like this,” Payton said with a cigarette behind his ear. “You got a Deuce McAllister jersey, guess what, you’re gonna be in the backfield at some point, okay? I don’t care if it’s an Aaron Brooks jersey, you’re taking some snaps, you feel me?”
Fans attending Sunday’s game have been advised to stretch, take some ibuprofen, and warm up their throwing arms, just in case they’re needed out on the field.