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With vaccine programs ramping up nationwide, employers have begun openly discussing how a worker’s vaccination status could impact their employment status. The NFL — in a similar fashion to other professional sports leagues — is reportedly creating separate rules for those who are vaccinated compared to those who are not.
In the NFL, while vaccinations are not currently mandated, they are certainly incentivized, with the league allowing special perks for those who get the prick, including allowing vaccinated players to gather outside of the team facility. In addition, social distancing rules were relaxed for vaccinated individuals at the 2021 NFL Draft.
The NBA recently agreed to no longer require a mandatory quarantine for players exposed to COVID-19 if the player exposed has been vaccinated, and the NFL may be heading down a similar path.
For NFL employees other than players, the decision on whether to get vaccinated is more straightforward. According to Yahoo Sports, the NFL released a memo to its employees:
Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees (other than players) should be expedited to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so. Any staffer that refuses to be vaccinated without a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or Tier 2 status and therefore will not be permitted access to the “football only” restricted area and may not directly or in close proximity with players. Furthermore, as noted below (in the memo), we anticipate relaxing various aspects of the Protocols (such as close contact quarantine, restrictions regarding locker room, meetings and cafeteria use and the testing cadence) for vaccinated individuals.
Based on this messaging, it seems clear why many teams would want as many of their staff to be fully vaccinated as possible.
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The question of whether teams could make decisions based on employee vaccination status was posed last week to Buffalo Bills general manager, Brandon Beane, on “One Bills Live.”
Beane said he’d be willing to cut an unvaccinated player if it meant loosening the restrictions placed on the team.
“We’re laughing, but these meetings (last season) were not as productive as before,” Beane said. “You guys saw it in the field house — sometimes we’d have three to four meetings going on, and sometimes you’re talking over each other. But it was the only way to pull it off and be socially distanced. So it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella.”
“If you have X percentage of your players and staff vaccinated, you can live normal, let’s just call it — back to the old days,” Beane elaborated.
“If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year … I hope that, if those are the rules, we’ll be able to get enough people vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches from a year ago.”
According to ESPN, Beane’s comments warranted a call from the league in which it was reiterated that a team may not release a player solely due to their vaccination status.
The NFL has not formally announced their 2021 COVID-19 protocols and they are clearly trying to avoid a situation in which players feel pressured to receive the vaccine, but to many, it appears inevitable that such pressure will exist.
According to the CDC, “If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a vaccine.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.