Unvaccinated NFL Players On COVID Reserve To Receive Game Checks
The NFL and NFLPA will face a serious question this upcoming 2021 season: Should unvaccinated NFL players who land on the COVID-19 reserve list during the season be paid?
Last season NFL players still received game checks while they were on the COVID-19 reserve from contracting the virus or after coming into contact with someone who tested positive. But will this change when players are allowed to choose whether they want to get the vaccine this season?
The NFL and NFLPA released their new COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason games. The protocols allow fully vaccinated players to have fewer restrictions such as no daily testing, no travel restrictions, and the ability to interact with vaccinated friends and family. Meanwhile, unvaccinated players will have more restrictions such as daily testing, masks required, no use of saunas and steam rooms, and may not leave team hotel to eat at restaurants or interact with anyone outside of Team Traveling Party during team travel.
Although these protocols are only in place for training camp and preseason, the 2021 season COVID-19 protocols haven’t been finalized yet. This set of guidelines gives players a sense of what this upcoming season might look like and will give players an incentive to get vaccinated.
But if players decide not to get vaccinated this season, contract the virus, and land on the COVID-19 reserve, should they still receive a game check? This falls heavily on two different aspects.
Vaccinated Players Contracting The Virus
Vaccinated players will be tested for COVID-19 once every 14 days. But that doesn’t necessarily mean vaccinated players can’t contract the virus at all. In May, the New York Yankees, who are vaccinated, had a COVID-19 outbreak between their players, coaches, and staff. While only a few showed symptoms, most were asymptomatic. If a similar situation occurred with vaccinated players, would those players still receive their game checks? At that point, the league can’t determine whether players contracted the virus from playing or outside of football. Once this question is answered, this will ultimately determine if unvaccinated players will receive the same treatment.
Evidence The Player Broke Protocol
If an unvaccinated player contracts the virus and is placed on the COVID-19 reserve, the league can’t assume the player contracted the virus outside of the NFL. All players vaccinated or not are still playing with and against each other on the field. Unvaccinated players can contract the virus from a vaccinated player who tested positive. Last season, all 32 NFL teams faced COVID-19 with starters and coaches out for days at a time. Unvaccinated players who are caught with video evidence or with more than one source confirming the athlete’s irresponsible actions of breaking protocol should not receive a game check.
If unvaccinated players contract COVID and are placed on COVID-19 reserve, players should receive their game checks because the league can’t contract trace whether the player caught COVID on the field or during outside activities. But if there is evidence an unvaccinated player contracted COVID after breaking protocol and then was placed on COVID-19 reserve, the players shouldn’t receive their game checks.
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