CINCINNATI — NFL players don't have to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but their life is going to be much different if they aren't vaccinated.
Unvaccinated players will be tested for COVID on a daily basis and must wear masks while inside team facilities. They'll have to be socially distanced from their teammates and face travel restrictions.
They won't be able to eat with their teammates or do any social media or marketing activities. They won't be allowed in the sauna or steam room at team facilities and can't leave team hotels during road trips.
The majority of Bengals players have already gotten or plan on getting the vaccine.
Star safety Jessie Bates is expecting the team to have at least 85% of players fully vaccinated before training camp starts at the end of July. That's the threshold they have to hit to have in person meetings based on the NFL's latest protocols.
"I'm not sure about the exact number, but we are very close," Bates said. "I think that's what we got rewarded with going hope a little early. I think we're on the right path."
Even if every Bengals player gets vaccinated, there are going to be players across the league that choose not to get the vaccine. Guys like Washington edge rusher Montez Sweat who has no plans of being vaccinated.
“I probably won’t get vaccinated until I got more facts and that type of stuff, but I’m not a fan of it at all,” Sweat said last week. “I haven’t caught COVID yet. I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID.”
Sweat isn't alone, but players and coaches that join him will face plenty of challenges this season that the rest of the NFL won't have to deal with.
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