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NFL declares key team employees, including coaches, who do not get COVID vaccines will lose access to facilities and players


The league had promised that the shots would not be required

Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL announced to teams this week that key employees — except players — will need to get COVID-19 vaccinations if they want to have access to some facilities and work with players. The only exception would be if they can document some sort of medical or religious reason for not getting a shot, Sports Illustrated said Tuesday.

What's that now?

In a memo to all 32 clubs, first reported by the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, league bigwigs told team executives, presidents, GMs, and head coaches that key employees will need to get a vaccine unless they have what the NFL considers a "bona fide" medical or religious reason for not getting one.

Last month, ESPN reported, the league vowed that no NFL employee would be required to get vaccinated as a condition of employment. Strictly speaking, that is still the case; however, any so-called Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees — e.g. coaches, front-office executives, and medical personnel — who choose not to get vaccinated will find it much more difficult to do their jobs:

Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees (other than players) should be expected 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 work directly or in close proximity with players.

The league also said it would will be looking for ways to make life easier for employees who do get the vaccine.

"[W]e 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," the memo stated.

More from the league diktat:

Educate your employees and communicate to them the work-related benefits of vaccination. Those benefits include not being tested, not being required to wear a tracking device, not being considered high-risk close contact, not being required to quarantine if exposed to Covid-19, and greater flexibility outside the facility. [...]

We are actively discussing with the NFLPA a set of protocol changes that would apply to clubs where vaccination levels reach a certain threshold and would give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements related to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects.

The NFL is not currently requiring players to get vaccinated because that falls under collective bargaining, Yahoo! Sports reported, and is currently the subject of negotiation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

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