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Decision-makers at the NFL meetings this week are discussing a pivot away from the league’s current COVID testing measures. Finally.
According to SI’s Albert Breer, the NFL could adopt a new policy that’d no longer demand COVID testing for players who have received a booster shot:
One idea being discussed in NFL circles at the December meeting: Incentivizing players getting the COVID-19 booster shot with the promise they'll stop testing players who have gotten it. Given the Browns' and Rams' situations, it's worth considering.
(Column coming on this.)
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 15, 2021
The NFL’s COVID policy regarding asymptomatic positive players is quickly ruining the season’s latter weeks.
The Browns have placed 14 players on the reserve/COVID list the past two days, including QB Baker Mayfield, who’s reportedly “feeling fine.” Cleveland Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski also tested positive, even though he has already received a booster shot. Both Mayfield and Stefanski are expected to miss the team’s game on Saturday against the Raiders.
Well, the Browns’ game is ruined, as is Thursday’s Chargers-Chiefs matchup that could decide the AFC West. This week, the Chargers’ otherworldly left tackle Rashawn Slater and Chiefs’ star defender Chris Jones tested positive for COVID. Slater and Jones now hardly have time to return two mandatory negative tests at least 24 hours apart to clear protocols before Thursday.
And it doesn’t stop there. At least 62 players have tested positive in the past two days. So at the most pivotal point in the NFL regular season, many players who feel fine and who are likely vaccinated can’t play.
COVID is not going away. The vaccine is less of a vaccine than it is a therapeutic, which means it prevents severe cases and hospitalization.
So the NFL must either make a change to its COVID policy or accept that some players and coaches — vaccinated, unvaccinated, or all boostered up — will not be available in the playoffs. And because the NFL’s unlikely to ease restrictions for unvaccinated players, the proposal to alleviate the restrictions on players who have received the booster is probably as smart as the NFL will get.
Get something done. Immediately.