The National Football League (NFL) has decided to relax their previously strict COVID-19 safety procedures, but is it the right action to take?
On Aug. 27, nine players on the Tennessee Titans, as well as their coach Mike Vrabel, tested positive for COVID-19. This was greatly attributed to the NFL changing its COVID-19 safety protocols. As of now, if any player is fully vaccinated, the player would only test for COVID-19 every 14 days, but if the player is not vaccinated, they would instead have to do the test daily. The goal behind this is to promote the idea that players who have not gotten the vaccine yet should get it.
Furthermore, especially because of the new Delta variant of COVID-19, instead of caring about the feelings of the players by relaxing safety protocol, the NFL should focus more on the safety of the players by enforcing protocol like never before.
For instance, it has repeatedly been shown that within just one week of the relaxed safety checks, many players and their coaches have fallen victim to COVID-19. Though there may be a small positive side, in which as more cases appear amongst NFL players, then the players that are not vaccinated yet may see more incentive to do so. This could be fatal to many players that have not gotten the vaccine yet.
Additionally, when gaps between testing times appear during the relaxed safety checks, more unknowing players are being infected due to their interaction with people. In football, wearing a mask is out of the question, which inevitably increases the risk of catching the virus. If enough instances of this occur, then it could potentially lead to games getting canceled due to a shortage of players.
Take the Buffalo Bills, for example, who were one of the great stories within the NFL at the end of last season. After 30 years of struggle against the Patriots’ monolith, the bills finally pushed towards their best season in years. But now, Bills players seemingly want to throw everything away because of the virus.
Bill’s receiver Isaiah Mckenzie even posted a letter that he got from the NFL which fined him for not wearing masks around the team facilities in frustration. This occurred just after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Bills nonetheless, as they were believed to be one of the least vaccinated teams of the NFL. The most striking part about this is that any team that has a COVID-19 outbreak during the regular season will be forced to forfeit any impacted games.
If the Bill’s are risking their entire team’s chance of competing this season, why are they so willing to risk losing everything? It seems as though it is just to rally against a safe vaccine that protects those who have taken it from the virus. One can imagine that this is what led the NFL and National Football League Player Association (NFLPA) to make their recent changes in a blind hope that players will finally get vaccinated.
In conclusion, players and coaches each have their responsibility to uphold the safety of one another and the people around them. Now that the Delta variant is becoming more prominent, players and event hosts have a greater duty to keep players and fans safe, assuring the fact the 2021-22 NFL season can proceed in as much regularity as possible.