NFL expecting teams’ ops staffs to get vaccine

  • national NFL writer
  • NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
  • Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

The NFL expects the key members of each team’s football operations staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a “bona fide” medical or religious reason not to, according to a memo issued to all clubs Tuesday.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said last month that no NFL employee, including players, would be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, and that remains the case. Tuesday’s edict, however, outlines the repercussions for those Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees who choose not to. Those groups do not include players, but rather coaches, front-office executives, medical personnel, video specialists and others who traditionally work closely with players.

According to the memo, “any staffer that refuses to be vaccinated 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.” Non-vaccinated employees also won’t be eligible for an anticipated relaxation of certain COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated individuals.

The league’s vaccination arrangement with players is being negotiated separately with the NFL Players Association, along with other pandemic-related offseason protocols. In the meantime, teams have been asked to file weekly reports on employee vaccination numbers. The NFL and NFLPA are exchanging proposals on a vaccination threshold for individual teams that, according to Tuesday’s memo, would “give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements relating to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects.”

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