Several NFL stars were under intense scrutiny and suffered financial penalties due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. This week the NFL announced that it reached an agreement with the players’ union to end all COVID protocols immediately.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was strongly criticized by many media outlets when he allegedly “lied” about his vaccine status and later disclosed he was taking ivermectin and other alternative treatments after testing positive for the virus. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley was fined around $100,000 for refusing to take the jab.
On Thursday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the NFL Players Association and the league office agreed to immediate termination of all protocols related to the pandemic. He wrote that after almost two years and not a single game lost to the pandemic, it’s “back to normal.”
A memo from the league office to the teams said that due to “current encouraging trends” and the updated guidance from the CDC and the counsel of experts, all aspects of the joint protocols are suspended. Teams must adhere to state and local laws that apply to them and are permitted to “continue reasonable measures” to protect staff and players.
Ending the protocols means players will no longer be tested for infection regardless of their vaccination status, no more masking requirements at offices and facilities and no more compulsory tracking devices. As are capacity limitations on dining and meeting rooms, social distancing restrictions in weight rooms and training facilities are dropped.
Since the onset of the COVID pandemic in early 2020, there have been no documented cases of viral transmission on playing fields or team facilities and no players have died of or with COVID-19.
The termination of the protocols applies to the annual scouting combine currently being conducted through Monday. The combine involves team meetings and joint workouts with a large pool of prospective players eligible for this year’s NFL draft.