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Unvaccinated NFL players will have a much, much more difficult season under new rules

Players can still choose not to get vaccinated, but they’re not free from consequences.


The NFL and NFLPA have issued Covid-19 guidelines for players ahead of the 2021 season, and life will be very, very different for players who decide not to get vaccinated, from those who do.

A joint agreement between the league and the union, sent out to teams this week details how players are allowed to operate if they receive the vaccine compared to those who don’t. Here is the full list of restrictions players will adopt this season.

NFL Covid restrictions

Vaccinated players Unvaccinated players
Vaccinated players Unvaccinated players
Will not be required to submit to daily Covid-19 testing. Will be tested daily.
Will not be required to wear masks at team facilities, or during travel. Will have to wear masks at facilities, and while traveling.
Will not need to quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19. Will need to self quarantine following exposure.
No travel restrictions, or limits on movement. Will remain under same travel restrictions as 2020 season.
Weight room activities will be unrestricted for players who are fully vaccinated. Will be required to limit their weight room numbers to 15 individuals.
May use team cafeteria with no restrictions. Must socially distance during meals. Not allowed to eat with teammates.
No limits on social, media, marketing or promotional opportunities. Not allowed to have social, media, marketing or promotion opportunities.
May use team steam rooms and sauna as normal. Not permitted to use steam room or sauna.
May eat with vaccinated family members and friends during team travel. Required to stay in team hotel for meals. May not eat in restaurants. Cannot interact with non-team members during travel.

The decision by the NFL and NFLPA comes after team attempts to motivate more players to get vaccinated failed to make an impact. While many teams are claiming 100 percent of their front office, and support staff are fully vaccinated against the virus, the numbers for players are lagging woefully behind, estimated to be under 50 percent league-wide.

These latest guidelines retain the ability for players to have freedom of choice when it comes to getting vaccinated, but not the privilege of being free from consequences. NFL players unanimously granted the NFLPA the right to bargain on their behalf when it comes to medical and disciplinary guidelines under the 2020 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Now unvaccinated players will have to make the decision whether remaining unvaccinated is worth the increased restrictions they face in the 2021 season as a result.