Vaccine-leery NFL stars like the Buffalo Bills' Cole Beasley and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers took a lot of grief for their stances on government-advocated COVID protocols instituted by the league this year.
The ever-defiant Beasley racked up some $100,000 in fines.
Rodgers was the subject of heavy ridicule for getting the virus after allegedly "lying" about his vaccine status. (Pro tip: There is no way the Packers and the NFL did not know who was vaccinated and who wasn't, so their shock and dismay over the QB's vax status was nothing but theater.)
And then Rodgers was mocked for talking about taking ivermectin and other alternatives after getting his positive COVID test — criticism he did not take lying down.
But now that's all water under the bridge, because the NFL effectively declared the pandemic over Thursday with a new announcement that all COVID protocols are hereby suspended.
According to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero, the league and the NFL Players Association have agreed to end all COVID directives, "effective immediately."
"After nearly two years of restrictions — and not a single game lost to the pandemic — it’s back to normal," Pelissero wrote. "Finally."
According to a memo sent to the teams and tweeted by Pelissero, "Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 Protocols."
Teams are required to stay "in compliance with state and local law and are free to continue reasonable measures to protect their staff and players."
That means no more testing of players, regardless of vax status, no more mandated tracking devices, and no more mask requirements.
Not coincidentally, the NFL scouting combine started this week and runs through Monday.