As the debate around vaccines continues across the U.S., NFL COVID-19 protocols are going to be extremely strict for the 2021 season.
ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine reported Saturday that unvaccinated players who break the NFL COVID-19 health and safety protocols will be fined $14,650 for each violation.
This comes after the NFL has made it known that if a team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak during the season among unvaccinated players, it’ll require those teams responsible to forfeit games if they can’t be rescheduled.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is among those who’ve spoken out against getting vaccinated. Buffalo Bills wideout Cole Beasley has been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccines, causing tensions to rise with teammates Stefon Diggs and Jerry Hughes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette deleted a tweet that hinted at his reluctance to be vaccinated. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wrongly suggested to reporters inquiring about his vaccine status was a violation of HIPAA.
The NFL is doing all it can to encourage vaccine doubters to get their shots as soon as possible. Otherwise, teams with too many unvaccinated players are more susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks — and a competitive disadvantage as a result.
With the regular-season schedule expanding to 17 games in 2021, and plenty of players still on the fence about the vaccine, even the strictest NFL COVID-19 protocols might not be enough to prevent serious disruptions, whether it be to the schedule or locker rooms being unprecedentedly divided.