The NFL on Thursday said it has been pushing for a vaccination mandate for players amid dueling proposals with the NFLPA about a new cadence for testing the vaccinated.
The comments by NFL general counsel Larry Ferazini came during a media teleconference regarding the state of the league’s COVID preparedness ahead of the 2021 season. The first regular season game is two weeks from Thursday.
“We would still love to see that mandate go into effect tomorrow,” Ferazani said.
However, union president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter said Wednesday that the league never asked for a mandate.
“It’s the NFL’s choice on the mandate,” Tretter told ESPN Radio. “They didn’t enforce one. There was never really any talk about having a mandate.”
The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills said Thursday that nearly 93 percent of all NFL players have been vaccinated, leaving roughly 200 players leaguewide who remain unvaccinated.
With that as a backdrop, the NFL is proposing to test vaccinated players weekly vs. bi-weekly while the NFLPA wants daily testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. (Unvaccinated players already get tested daily.)
“The COVID environment is constantly changing and our success last year was built not only on a foundation of cooperation, but more importantly, on listening to our experts,” the NFLPA said in a statement to ESPN on Thursday. “It is clear with what we know about the Delta variant and with what we have seen already with clubs, testing needs to be a greater focal point.”
That testing cadence would seem to be the battlefield as Tretter said Wednesday that the ship has sailed on a vax mandate.
“I think that time has already passed,” Tretter said on ESPN Radio. “The NFL is not mandating the vaccine for players so I don’t think there’s any going back on that at this point. I think we move forward how that is.
“We know the protocols we used last year worked, got us through a season. So we’ll continue to refine those protocols, continue to enforce those protocols. That’s our goal again, to get through a season, avoid transmission within the building; that’s what caused us problems last year.”
–Field Level Media