NFL COVID-19 Protocols
The NFL and NFLPA have updated their COVID-19 protocols for preseason and training camp. These new protocols are in place for all players and staff involved in the NFL. There are different restrictions depending on vaccination status. Players are not required to be vaccinated in order to play in the upcoming season.
Skepticism among players
There has been hesitation among many players to get vaccinated. One of many who have spoken up about their concerns includes Panthers QB Sam Darnold. Darnold has made it clear that his decision is personal and that getting the vaccine or not is everyone’s choice. Matt Rhule, head coach for the Panthers, stood by Darnold’s position.
Bills WR Cole Beasly has shown his discontent in the division that the vaccine has created. He has created a stir with several tweets, voicing his opinion on the vaccination rollout and the League’s COVID protocols. In one post, he shared, “Y’all do what y’all want and I’m gonna do what I want. Do what you think is right personally.”
The debate has created strong feelings on both sides of the argument, as others have expressed strong opinions that oppose the hesitation.
Buffalo Bills manager, Brandon Beane threatened to let go of unvaccinated players without regarding his actions as insensitive. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has also pushed for players to get vaccinated by arguing, “if you want to get back to normal, get vaccinated”. The NFL is not enforcing players to be vaccinated in order to play. Players have been informed by medical advisors about the vaccine and can do what they feel is right.
Rules and restrictions
Players and staff members who have not been fully vaccinated are required to undergo daily testing, wear a face covering, and must social distance. Quarantine procedures are in place in the case of exposure or outbreak. There are also restrictions during team travel. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people may not interact with vaccinated friends, family, or teammates and may not leave their hotel. Public areas such as restaurants, stores, and bars are off-limits to those who are not fully vaccinated. Fines of up to $50,000 can be charged to individuals who do not follow standards or practice safety measures when among others. There are also several restrictions on access to media and interaction with the press. Those who are fully vaccinated are not required to abide by any of the following restrictions- no testing, no masks, no media or travel restrictions.
In spite of the hesitation of getting the shot, Raiders executive Amy Trask thinks that the benefits of being vaccinated will motivate others to get theirs.
Players are not required to get vaccinated for COVID-19, but they will need to abide by the protocols set in place in order to be able to play: frequent testing, social distancing and masking at all times, and restricted access to amenities. Coaches and trainers who are fully vaccinated can work directly with players and are not required to wear a face covering.
Read more about the League’s COVID-19 protocols in detail here.
As of July 8th, 6 of the NFL teams have surpassed the 85% threshold of vaccinations, bringing the vaccination rate of the entire league up to 69%. New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins were the first teams to have surpassed the threshold for player vaccinations. Kansas City Chiefs also hold a high vaccination rate; Patrick Mahomes was one of the first players to receive a vaccine. Teams that are further behind in their vaccination numbers include Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, and Indianapolis Colts.
Comparing to last season
Last year, a total of 67 players voluntarily opted out of participating in the 2021 season due to COVID-19. There has been no report of any players deciding to opt out of the upcoming season. The deadline to decide was July 2nd, so it looks like we should have a full roster!