In July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 of the NFL teams announcing that for the upcoming 2021 season, The League would NOT be rescheduling games to accommodate outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus among its players.  Instead, teams must either be ready to put the required number of players on the field and play the game or forfeit the game.

But…
the onslaught of the new omicron variant of the Covid virus, things have changed.  While delta continues to rage around the country, omicron has invaded and causing the numbers to rise dramatically.

In the last week over 100 players and coaches have tested positive for the virus; and as a result, Goodell has had to change the rules.  In the wake of three NFL games being rescheduled this weekend alone, Goodell and the NFL Players Association has issued a new set of Covid protocols.

After conferring with medical experts, the new set of protocols are designed to provide for some flexibility for the players and teams…

A fully vaccinated person who is asymptomatic will no longer have to be tested weekly; but will be required to submit to random testing.

If a fully vaccinated person shows some symptoms of the virus, they will be isolated immediately and test for the virus.  Said individual will not be allowed to interact with any other player or staff until after they have tested negative for the virus.

The League is also encouraging players and staff to get the booster shot in addition to current protocols.

However, players and tiered staff will be required to pass a “stringent symptom screening” before being allowed to enter the facility.  This screening will be conducted on a daily basis.

A new change in the protocol policy is that players who are considered “high-risk” will be allowed to opt out for the rest of the season.  Players have until 2pm on Monday, December 21 to make their declaration.

A player may volunteer for additional testing if he so desires.

All players and staff who are NOT vaccinated will still be subject to daily testing.

In the memo Goodell noted, “medical information strongly indicates that this variant is significantly more contagious but possibly less severe than prior variants, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot.  Our experience with the Omicron variant is fully consistent with this expectation – while more players and staff are testing positive, roughly two-thirds of those individuals are asymptomatic, most of the remaining individuals have only mild symptoms, and the virus appears to clear positive individuals more rapidly than was true with the Delta and other variants. In many respects, Omicron appears to be a very different illness from the one we first confronted in the spring of 2020.”

He continued, “the NFL and NFLPA medical teams believe that this comprehensive approach to testing, which mirrors public health recommendations and best practices employed in healthcare, offers the best opportunity for identifying and treating cases promptly and avoiding spread within the facility.”