Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, a number of assistant coaches from multiple NFL teams — at least four — are refusing to get COVID vaccinations, and that could affect the abilities of those coaches to interact with their players as vaccinated coaches will be allowed to.
With training camps starting next month, and 100 days until the first Sunday of the 2021 season, it’s a bit of a shock. Per Pelissero, “Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told clubs last month that players, coaches and staff who get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine need to get the first shot no later than the week of June 7 to achieve full vaccination status by the start of training camp in late July.”
For those coaches who refuse to get the vaccine, or are late to the party for whatever reason, options are limited.
Per the NFL’s memo, there are the four tiers:
Those coaches who are fully vaccinated by June 7 are granted full access to all restricted areas with no PPE required.
Coaches in the process of being fully vaccinated will be permitted to access the practice field and other restricted areas, except for in-person meetings, the athletic training room, the weight room, the players’ locker room, and the facility cafeteria. These coaches may not travel with the team until they are fully vaccinated.
Coaches who are not vaccinated with an approved religious or medical exemption have the same permissions and restrictions as those coaches who are in the process of being fully vaccinated.
Coaches who are not in the process of being vaccinated and have no approved exemption are not allowed access to any restricted area while players are present, and they will not be allowed to have any in-person access to players at all.
Here’s a breakdown from last week’s memo of the new restrictions that go into effect Monday. The league has made clear it does not expect to roll back these restrictions at any point during the 2021 season, even for those granted an exemption. pic.twitter.com/VArIvbn3zC
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 4, 2021
Player vaccinations remain low in comparison with Tier 1/Tier 2 team staff, but player vaccinations are not mandatory — just staff vaccinations unless there is a religious or medical exemption.
Pelissero also reported that the NFL and NFLPA continue to negotiate vaccination protocols, but in a league where any competitive advantage is supposed to be the most important thing, the thought that certain teams will not have assistant coaches interfacing with their players as often and as productively as other teams will likely be a wake-up call for those teams who are potentially affected.