ProFootballDoc: The Pandemic Is Real But The NFL Excuses Are Not

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The explanations for the latest NFL and NFLPA actions just don’t hold water. I would prefer the league come out and say that they want to find a way to have everyone vaccinated and the players to just say we liked last season’s virtual offseason program. Instead, each side uses COVID-related safety precautions to justify their demands.

Last year during the height of the pandemic, the Buccaneers made news when they gathered with new QB Tom Brady to hold unofficial practices, violating their own NFLPA mandate not to congregate in person. Now with COVID conditions improving, the Bucs players are going the other way and citing “the ongoing pandemic” as the reason to take a stand with the union and not participate in the voluntarily offseason program. The Broncos and Seahawks have also opted out.

Remember when the Titans had a documented in-season COVID-19 outbreak that delayed games and shut the Titans facility down? Players broke protocols to gather for a group workout then. Now players want to invoke the pandemic to avoid practicing in the offseason. 

With Organized Team Activities (OTAs) set to start on Monday, it seems to me the NFLPA wants to renegotiate the CBA and get rid of the in-person offseason program. These workouts are already voluntary and no player has to attend. Ironically, 22 Broncos have already been in attendance at the team facility to work out before the team voted against showing up at the OTAs. It seems the veteran players don’t want younger players to attend, get a head start on learning the systems and take their jobs. However, these veteran players still use the pandemic as the reason.

In other news, the NFL clearly wants all players and staff to take the vaccine, but they can’t legally force them to do so. So instead, they are adjusting the rules and making them more favorable for vaccinated players and staff. Any team employee who refuses the vaccine (without a bona fide medical or religious excuse) will not be allowed to work with players and will have their building access restricted. 

It seems the NFL is rigging the system to make it hard for non-vaccinated employees to do their job. Team staff have no union, and they likely will fall in line and get vaccinated whereas many players will likely choose not to be vaccinated.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Will players with workout bonuses report to OTAs? Will young players, eager to curry favor, learn the system, report and take first team reps? Remember, players who get injured working out away from the facility have no salary protection.

Everyone and every group has the right to push their own agendas and lobby for their own advantage. However, can we just call it like it is and not use the pandemic as a negotiating tool?

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. The cure by far has been worse than the disease where the vast vast majority of people if they get it recover just fine businesses and lives ruined by these tyrannical unnecessary never ever been done before quarantine an entire healthy population. A good read is” Unreported Truths about Covid “available at Amazon. Even when vaccinated you have fauchi saying wear a mask or two don’t eat inside at restaurant I mean let’s just keep the fear going I am over it just like most Americans way past time to move the hell on.

  2. . . . not sure the NFL can legally prevent people from WORKING at their jobs just because they haven’t gotten a covid vaccination? I’m betting there are a LOT of lawyers out there just salivating at the chance to sue the deep pockets of the National Felons League.

    What part of their NFL employment contract applies to this requirement? does the NFL require flu shots? measles vaccinations? does the NFL tell people with HIV they can’t work there?

    Seems this requirement is discriminatory and violates a passel of federal laws or regulations, not to mention privacy laws, the First Amendment, the 4th, the Rehab Act, and others.

  3. Agree but the NFL is not preventing any staff from working or getting paid, just how they work. I agree there may be legal questions but I doubt any staff sues. No union and anyone making noise will be slowly phased out of the league.

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