The NFL and NFLPA jointly released updated COVID-19 mitigation protocols for training camp and the regular season, and the differences for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are drastic.
First and foremost, vaccinated players will no longer be tested daily and will not be required to wear masks at team facilities or during travel.
Those who are unvaccinated will still be required to do both. They will also be prevented from attending large social gatherings away from football, such as concerts, clubs and parties, and can face up to a $50,000 fine if caught.
In addition, vaccinated players that have faced potential exposure to the virus will not be labeled a high-risk close contact and therefore not forced into mandatory five-day quarantine.
This element will have major competition implications, and highlights why Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was so proud of his club’s vaccination participation on Tuesday.
“I like our overall trajectory of our participation in the vaccination process,” Tomlin says. “Guys are working hard to adhere to the polices and the protocols. It’s just been a continuation of 2020 in regard to our attitude. We are going to work hard to adhere. We will look for an advantage that compliance might get us. Participation has been awesome from what I understand. We are doing really well relative to the rest of our peers. We just hope to continue to work in that area and hopefully, it is a winning edge as we proceed.”
Wednesday’s protocol announcement applies to coaches and team personnel as well.
Vaccinated coaches and staff members will have the same liberties attributed to their immune counterparts, while those still not inoculated will be prohibited from working in-person with players and required to continue wearing their face coverings.
Lastly, fully vaccinated media members will be permitted to conduct in-person interviews with players for the first time in over a year. Unvaccinated media personnel will be barred from locker rooms, sidelines, the field and the press box.