Before a Week 12 showdown with the New Orleans Saints last fall, Denver Broncos backup quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19.
Denver’s three other quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were later seen on video in close contact with Driskel without masks, causing the NFL to place all of the Broncos’ QBs on the COVID-19 reserve list.
With no QBs available, Denver was desperate. The Broncos wanted to sign coach Rob Calabrese to play QB but league rules wouldn’t allow it. With no other options, Denver promoted practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton to serve as an emergency QB against New Orleans.
Hinton threw more interceptions than completions in a 31-3 loss.
NFL teams — and some teams in other sports — took note of the Broncos’ COVID-19 disaster and changed their own protocols. The Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks were among the NFL teams who took action after Denver’s mishap.
At least one NHL team — the Ottawa Senators — also took action.
#Sens having their 3 goalies sitting apart in dressing room. Want to make sure if one were to test positive, it wouldn’t sideline all of their goalies. Coach DJ Smith points to Denver #Broncos when a positive test in QBs room left them starting “a fifth string WR” at QB
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) January 14, 2021
DJ Smith, Ottawa’s coach, dubbed Hinton a fifth-string WR, but even that description was generous. On the active roster (before injury), Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, DaeSean Hamilton, Tyrie Cleveland and Diontae Spencer all ranked above Hinton. On the practice squad, Fred Brown likely ranked above Hinton as well, putting him ninth on the depth chart.
Regardless of where Hinton sat on the depth chart, the Broncos never planned to start him at QB. Now at least one hockey team is hoping to avoid having to start a non-goalie in net due to COVID-19 protocols.