By Adam Roberts – 6/16/2021
COVID vaccines and whether or not athletes choose to receive them has become a pretty common topic of discussion lately. And many have wondered what stance leagues will take with their athletes who elect not to receive them. Today, the NFL painted a pretty clear picture of what the league will look like for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero detailed the updated COVID-19 protocols for the league in a Twitter thread today, and the top of that tweet made it pretty clear that the options available to athletes will be HIGHLY skewed towards those who are vaccinated. This photo details some of the more notable differences, some of which include unvaccinated players being required to test daily, wear masks at club facilities and during travel, being quarantined after a high risk exposure to the virus, and extensive physical distancing requirements limiting their use of weight room, sauna, and meal room facilities. At the very bottom of the photo, the protocols also note that unvaccinated players may not leave the team hotel to eat out or interact with anyone outside of the team’s traveling party during road contests. Unvaccinated individuals will not be allowed on team charters according to Pelissero.
Also of note, the updated protocols allow for fully vaccinated media members to once again engage with players for in-person interviews. Pelissero says unvaccinated media will not be allowed in the press box or locker room, or on the sidelines or field.
The mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated players after a high risk exposure could have major implications from a competitive perspective, with unvaccinated stars facing a possible removal from the field for a period of time.
Finally, players who are not fully vaccinated cannot go to nightclubs, bars, concerts, or parties. Fines for non-compliance will start at 50,000 dollars. The Pelissero tweets did not mention what the league will do as far as confirming player vaccinations.