The NFL unveiled its new COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason this week, which puts heavy restrictions on what unvaccinated football players are allowed to do. The strict coronavirus restrictions were agreed to by the NFL Players Association, which frustrated several professional football players.
The NFL released its COVID-19 protocols Wednesday, which dictates that coaches and staff must be vaccinated, but players have the option. However, unvaccinated NFL players are severely restricted, while vaccinated players have far more freedoms and return to near pre-pandemic rules.
Unvaccinated players will need to be tested for COVID-19 every single day, while those who are vaccinated will not.Unvaccinated players will need to wear face masks at the facility and during travel, while vaccinated individuals will not.Unvaccinated players will have travel restrictions, while vaccinated people will not.Unvaccinated players are not permitted to leave their hotel rooms to get food from a restaurant and are not allowed to interact with anyone outside of the team, while there are no restrictions on vaccinated players.Unvaccinated players must practice social distancing when eating, while those vaccinated are not required to do so.Unvaccinated players are barred from the sauna and steam room, while vaccinated players are permitted to use these facilities.Unvaccinated players have weight room capacity limits, while vaccinated individuals do not.Unvaccinated players will lose out on extra income since they will be banned from social/media/marketing/sponsorship activities, while vaccinated players are permitted to do so.
“Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, including players, will be prohibited from gathering outside club facilities or team travel. NFL players who are not fully vaccinated will be barred from going to nightclubs, bars, house parties, concerts, etc,” the league stated.
Players are prohibited from house gatherings of more than 15 people unless all participants are wearing PPE.
Failure to follow the new rules could result in fines of $50,000 for a first offense.
The NFL has made it clear that unvaccinated players will have a much tougher time in the preseason than those who have received the coronavirus vaccine.
Some players have already voiced their displeasure at the constraining new rules set by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley called the new regulations “crazy,” and blasted the NFLPA.
“This is crazy. Did we vote on this? I stay in the hotel. We still have meetings. We will all be together,” Beasley wrote on Twitter. “Vaccinated players can go out the hotel and bring covid back in to where I am. So what does it matter if I stay in the hotel now? 100 percent immune with vaccination? No.”
“So what are we really talking about? I understand completely why the NFL is doing this,” he tweeted. “It gives them back the freedom to make the most money as possible again if everyone is vaccinated. But will anyone fight for the players or nah?”
“The players association is a joke. Call it something different. It’s not for the players,” Beasley continued. “Everyone gives me the 98 percent of people who are vaccinated don’t get covid again. The odds of me getting in the NFL and playing for 10 years are lower than that and I’m here.”
Beasley was asked why he didn’t want to get vaccinated, to which he responded, “Why does it matter what my reasons are? It’s a personal choice. That means I don’t have to explain to anyone why I do what I do. Just like everything else in my life.”
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon also slammed the NFL Players Association for heavily restricting players who didn’t want to get vaccinated.
“The @NFLPA is not for the players they act like they represent us and they clearly show us different time & time again,” Mixon tweeted.
“I thought Football was a team sport and it’s clearly being individualized by beliefs,” he added.
Mixon clarified that he is not against vaccines or anyone who wants to get vaccinated, “I love everybody and I show love to everyone vaccinated or not. I RESPECT EVERYBODY who decides to get the vaccine or not. I’M NOT AGAINST EITHER! I WILL FIGHT & DIE FOR A RESPECTED DECISION.”
An NFL agent told ESPN that 60% of his clients are fully vaccinated.
Of the NFL’s 32 franchises, 16 teams have 51 or more players who are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera estimated 50% of his players have gotten the coronavirus vaccine, and noted that a few more plan to get vaccinated after the team brought in an infectious disease professor from Harvard to talk to players about the COVID-19 vaccine.
One Washington Football Team player who was not persuaded to get the vaccine was defensive end Montez Sweat.
“I’m not a fan of it,” Sweat said of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday. “I probably won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts and that stuff. I’m not a fan of it at all. I haven’t caught COVID yet so I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID.”
Unvaccinated fans are allowed to attend training camps, but must practice social distancing and remain more than 20 feet from players and team staff.