The most controversial topic in the NFL is about to have an even greater impact on players — in their wallets.
NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reported that the league sent teams a memo Tuesday outlining COVID-19 protocols during training camp and the preseason. Per the report, players — whether or not they are vaccinated — would face a $14,650 fine if they refuse to wear a tracking device that can detect whether they’ve gone to banned areas outside team facilities. Pelissero also reported that players who refuse to undergo virus testing would face a $50,000 fine.
The NFL tonight sent clubs updated training camp and preseason COVID protocols, including discipline for any player — regardless of vaccination status — who refuses to wear a tracking device ($14,650) or refuses to submit to required virus testing ($50,000), per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 28, 2021
Pelissero outlined other league mandates in the memo. Unvaccinated players must wear masks during lifts, walkthroughs and practice, “except when doing so would interfere with their ability to engage in athletic activity.” Inactive players who are unvaccinated are to wear masks while on the sideline.
Per Pelissero, the COVID-19 guidelines have been jointly approved by the league and the NFL Players Association.
This is not the first time the league has taken a hard stance on protocols. It informed clubs Thursday that if a game is postponed because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players and cannot be rescheduled during the league’s 18-week regular season, the team with the outbreak will forfeit the game and neither team’s players will be paid. It seems Tuesday’s memo drives home the point that the NFL isn’t interested in dealing with the significant logistical hurdles it faced last year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement — but no cancellation — of games.
Vaccination has been a topic of debate not only among players but also coaching staffs. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott declined to say Friday whether he was vaccinated, saying, “I think that’s HIPAA.” The Vikings removed Rick Dennison as offensive line coach after he refused to get the vaccine, though he will remain with the team as senior offensive adviser.
It will be interesting to see whether the NFL’s game plan of attacking players’ wallets will produce higher vaccination rates.