The NFL updated its COVID-19 guidelines on Friday and will no longer require unvaccinated players to undergo daily testing.
In discussion with the NFLPA, the League decided to halt daily testing for all players — a privilege granted only to vaccinated players as recently as Dec. 18.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero relayed the leaguewide memo sent Friday, citing a mutual agreement between the League and Players Association based on Omicron’s waning effects.
“The change is based on info gathered the past month on the Omicron variant and was approved by the NFLPA,” Pelissero announced on his Twitter. “All players and tiered staff will be subject to enhanced symptom screening, symptom-based testing and targeted surveillance testing.”
“NFL and NFLPA medical experts are seeing the Omicron wave receding, targeted testing is working and no complications with new 5-day return rule,” Pelissero said. “Also, they’re not seeing unvaccinated people shedding virus longer as with previous variants. So all sides are comfortable with this shift.”
He added, “… Individuals on a 90-day test ‘holiday’ after having COVID are still subject to testing if they have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. So while positive tests are near-zero right now, it’s still possible any player could miss a playoff game, if they’re sick.”
During a spike in cases of the Omicron variant throughout Dec., the NFL faced criticism as the product on the field was hindered by COVID-related ineligibility, despite touting vaccination as a key for players to avoid sitting out all offseason.
After months of handing down the same COVID-19 restrictions to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, the former grew weary of the League’s instruction and challenged the NFL and NFLPA to start rolling back regulations.
As mentioned by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, “From Dec. 12 to Jan. 8: 756 players and 478 staff members tested positive.”
With playoff football in full swing, it’s no surprise that the NFL wants to avoid compromising the pinnacle of its season — considering college football’s success this year with ditching the COVID hysteria.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated players are still required to report any symptoms related to COVID, making sit-outs a remaining reality for games moving forward.
Read Bobby Burack‘s recent column on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ defiance against Dr. Anthony Fauci.
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