One of the carrots for getting vaccinated has gotten somewhat smaller.
The NFL has reached an agreement with the NFL Players Association that vaccinated players and staff will be tested once per week. Previously, vaccinated players and staff were tested once every 14 days.
A second voluntary weekly test is available. Players with “vulnerable cohabitants” (as determined by team officials) may be tested daily, if they so choose.
The testing of vaccinated players must happen over a three-day period for each club in each week. “In other words, the club must divide its players and Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff into three groups, testing one group on one day; the second group on a second day; and the third group on a third day of each week,” the memo to all teams explains.
Players and staff who test positive can’t return until they generate two consecutive lab-based PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.
Daily testing become an option in the event of a “cluster” of positive results, along with mandatory masking.
The union had suggested daily testing for vaccinated staff. The move to weekly staffing puts all players at risk of a sudden removal from the roster. The testing presumably will happen on the first three days after each game (where possible) in order to give player who test positive a maximum opportunity to generate the two consecutive negative tests.
Presumably, the most important players and staff (like quarterback and head coach) will be included in the first wave every week. That approach will give them maximum time to be cleared via a pair of negative tests.