We are just under 100 days until the start of the 2021 NFL season in which teams are expecting to see the return of fans at full capacity after playing in front of basically no one last year during the thick of the pandemic.
Now, three vaccines have been made available to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The NFL has stated that they will not require players or staff to get vaccinated but they will still have to practice social distancing and all other safety measures. In fact, the NFL has said that NFL team employees who don't get vaccinated without 'bona fide' reason will be barred from restricted areas. In a memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the NFL laid out the entire situation.
"Should be expected to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so." Those who refuse vaccination without either a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or 2 status "and therefore will not be permitted access to the 'football only' restricted area and may not work directly or in close proximity with players."
Earlier this week during a press conference at OTAs, Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold was asked if he had received the vaccine yet and if not, if he will in the future.
"I haven't been vaccinated yet. I've still got to think about all of those certain things that go into it," Darnold stated. "Again, it's everyone's choice whether they want to get vaccinated or not. That's really all I got on it, I don't want to go into detail but yeah, I haven't been vaccinated yet."
The Panthers' starting quarterback was then asked if he was doing his research on the vaccine to which he replied, "I have been. For me, I'm just staying by myself right now. I don't have a family or anything like that. There's a ton of different things that go into it and I'm going to evaluate that on my own and make the best decision that I feel like is the best for myself."
Just one day after Darnold's comment, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a press conference that “there shouldn’t be any excuse for not having answers."
The league is doing its best to protect players, coaches, and other team personnel but at the end of the day, it is a personal choice to get vaccinated. The NFL wants folks to make an informed decision.
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