NFL releases updated COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated, unvaccinated players

The NFL and its COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 season are going to be under a ton of scrutiny with training camps slated to get going in roughly a month.

Last season was a bit different with the United States in the height of the pandemic. Restrictions were pretty darn clear as the league attempted to navigate through said pandemic and still complete a full 17-week regular season as well as the playoffs.

This year is dramatically different in that the NFL will separate vaccinated players from unvaccinated players as the league looks to get back to normalcy. It’s in this that the power that be released updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the upcoming 2021 campaign.

Tim Tebow is now playing tight end for the Jaguars.

Fully vaccinated NFL players

nfl covid 19 protocols
Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA; A fan wears a mask with a Super Bowl LV logo before the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • No daily testing required
  • Masks not required at club facility or during team travel
  • No physical distancing required in club facility with other vaccinated individuals
  • No quarantine required after high-risk exposure to COVID
  • No travel restrictions
  • No capacity limits in weight room
  • May eat in cafeteria with other fully vaccinated individuals
  • No off-field restrictions (sponsorship meetings, dining etc…)
  • May interact with vaccinated family members, friends

Non-vaccinated NFL players

  • COVID testing required every day
  • Masks required at club facility and during travel
  • Must remain physically distanced from others at club facility
  • Must quarantine after high-risk exposure to COVID
  • Travel restrictions in effect
  • 15 player limit in weight room
  • Players must be distanced in meal room; can’t eat with teammates
  • No social-marketing or social activities off the field are permitted
  • May not use sauna/steam room
  • May not leave team hotel during travel

Further NFL COVID-19 protocols

  • NFL players who aren’t fully vaccinated can’t go to nightclubs, bars, house parties or concerts. NFL teams are allowed to issue fines of a game check up to $50,000 for a first offense for violating protocol. Further violations will lead to expanded fines.
  • Fully vaccinated media will be permitted to conduct in-person interviews with players for the first time since early 2020. Unvaccinated media not allowed in press box, field, sidelines, locker room, etc, per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
  • Coaches who are not fully vaccinates and don’t have religious or medical exemptions won’t be allowed to work in-person with players during training camp. This is a major thing when it comes to competitiveness around the NFL.

NFL COVID-19 protocols and incentives to get vaccinated

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians
Jun 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians talks with media during organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We have heard the likes of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians pretty much call out those players who have opted against getting vaccinated. It’s now clear that the NFL is incentivizing players to get vaccinated.

As of earlier this week, half of the NFL’s 32 teams have at least 51 players who have been fully vaccinated or are in the process of getting fully vaccinated. More than half of all NFL players have had at least one shot.

NFL teams and those who run the ship want to get back to normalcy as soon as possible. The league will allow for relaxed COVID-19 protocols for teams with at least 85% of the players on their current 90-man rosters having been vaccinated.