How the NFL is Working Around COVID after New Season Starts

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Photo via: Aïda Amer/Axios

Andrew Tunley, Staff Writer

The 2021 NFL Season kicked off recently with over 78 percent of players having at least one vaccine shot, and the NFL continuing to prove why their season should not be postponed. After a successful season in 2020 with no games cancelled, the NFL is looking forward to another safe and exciting season. The NFL recently sent out a memo stating the safety measures they are taking this year. This memo ranks the staff of a team as Tier 1, 2, and 3. Tier 1 consists of players, coaches and any personnel that need direct access to players. Tier 2 consists of managers, security, and any personnel who may need to be in close proximity to players. Tier 3 consists of transportation providers, in-house media, and anyone who does not need close contact to Tier 1 individuals.

“Nearly all clubs have vaccinated 100 percent of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs,” the NFL memo reads. “As of today, more than 75 percent of players are in the process of being vaccinated, and more than half the clubs have vaccination rates greater than 80 percent of their players.” 

Aside from vaccinations, the NFL has also stated the restrictions on players or staff if they do test positive for COVID-19. There are harsher restrictions on people who haven’t been vaccinated yet. If an unvaccinated person tests positive, they will be isolated for at least 10 days, with the isolation lasting even longer if they are still symptomatic. If a vaccinated person tests positive, they can return back to duty as soon as they have two negative tests 24 hours apart. The NFL clearly wants players to get vaccinated, with this being an indirect incentive for players to get vaccinated. 

Now that the NFL season has officially started, enforcing these rules are even more important towards the success of another season. “If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the competing teams, that club will forfeit the contest,” the memo later states. This rule sparks controversy among players and fans alike. Some people argue that it is unfair because it could ruin their playoff chances, while others say that safety should always be top priority. 

Either way, the NFL has proven that it has a zero tolerance policy on full teams being unvaccinated. So, whether you are a fan cheering on your home team, a fantasy football team owner rooting for a single player to get that extra yard, or even a family member of someone who plays in the NFL, just know that the NFL is taking care of their safety and maintaining their strict rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19.