The NFL on Wednesday released a league-wide memo detailing its COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming training camp and preseason
In short, for fully vaccinated personnel, life will return to 2019 and before. Aside from having to take a test every two weeks, those persons will be able to move freely (and mask-free) throughout their facilities.
For those who are not fully vaccinated, 2021 will be a repeat of 2020.
Just to gain entry into their team facilities for training camp, unvaccinated personnel will have to go through a 5-day testing process, then test daily from that point forward. Their movements in the team weight room, cafeteria, hotel, sauna and meeting room will be severely policed, and masks must be worn at all times.
The protocols are effective beginning when training camps get underway next month. The protocols last through the preseason only for now, but clearly the NFL hopes that these measures are enough to inspire the holdouts to get vaccinated, thereby making the test-and-mask process unnecessary by the time the regular season begins -- if not before.
By releasing these updates now -- when most teams have completed their offseason workout and mini-camp schedules, and the others will follow suit shortly -- the league is giving its players fair warning to get vaccinated soon, or else. Players will have roughly a month to complete the multi-week process (depending on what shot one gets), including the downtime for side effects some people feel after their second shot.
From a competitive angle, the biggest issue moving forward will be that unvaccinated players will still be required to quarantine after high-risk exposures while the vaccinated will not.
The memo comes on the heels of numerous high-profile players, including Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, saying they hadn't been vaccinated and deflecting on if they would do so in the future.
The NFL can't (or won't) force its players and personnel to get vaccinated. But Wednesday's memo makes it screaming clear that it will use its power to make life miserable for those don't.