One of the biggest incentives for getting players vaccinated has become one of the biggest potential impediments to playing a full 2021 NFL season.
Unvaccinated players have daily COVID tests. Vaccinated players don’t. Initially, vaccinated players were tested every 14 days. Recently, the NFL changed the frequency to once a week.
NFLPA president JC Tretter believes all players should be tested every day.
“Since the beginning of training camp, we have been testing our vaccinated players once every 14 days,” Tretter writes in a new column at the union’s official website. “It has been ineffective as we’ve had significantly more incidents of transmission inside the building this year than last year. The NFLPA saw this coming months ago and has been advocating for a return to daily testing because it is more effective way to stop and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in our locker rooms. However, the NFL decided to move to weekly testing; and while that is a step in the right direction, it leaves us open to many of the same problems we’ve been facing.”
Since vaccinated players can still get it, why not test them once per day? Although some players may be upset that they got vaccinated thinking they’d be tested less frequently before finding out otherwise, the best way to ensure that outbreaks won’t occur is to not allow anyone into the facility until they have generated a negative COVID result, vaccinated or not.
“Recently, Tennessee finished up with 14 positives — and the team was 97% vaccinated at that time,” Tretter explains. “It’s not hard to realize how devastating that would be during a week of the regular season. Yet, incidents like this have flown under the radar because players missing training camp practices or preseason games isn’t big news. That will not be the case moving forward and a few teams are already without, or at risk of being without, key starters heading into this opening weekend.”
Here’s the thing Tretter adds, something that no one wants to hear but that they need to hear: “We are all tired. No one likes that this is the world we are living in still this season. No one likes mitigation methods. But we cannot do what is easy over what is right. We cannot do what is cheaper over what is right. We have been warned by our experts that, because of our current testing cadence, we are at more risk of missed games this season than last season.”
Indeed we are. Although the COVID deniers want to shout down anyone who points out that getting through the 2021 season won’t be as easy as many believed it would be, someone needs to be pulling the alarm now in order to ensure that the league and the union will do what needs to be done to get all games played.
Why not daily testing? It won’t make things worse. It definitely could make things better.