On Thursday, the NFL reimplemented a wide variety of enhanced COVID protections. After this weekend’s games, those enhanced protections will be gone.
Here’s the language from the revised protocols, as agreed to by and between the NFL and NFL Players Association on Saturday: “In addition, the Protocol changes set forth in the December 16 memorandum will remain in effect through the completion of each club’s Week 15 game. We will re-evaluate our testing data over the weekend and determine whether these or other measures should remain in place beyond Tuesday. However, even if these measures are not officially extended, we have agreed with the NFLPA that players on a given club will have the option to participate in meetings virtually or wear a mask within the facility.”
That’s a roundabout way of saying “see ya” to the enhanced protections adopted on Thursday, which include no indoors meetings, indoor masks for all players, no more than 15 players present in the weight room, no staff and players earring together in the meal rooms, no visitors to or excursions from team hotels for road trips, and limits on the abilities of all players to engage in public activities. After this weekend’s games, those will be gone for all teams that aren’t in enhanced protocols due to an outbreak.
Currently, those teams are Washington, Cleveland, and the Rams. For teams that have outbreaks going forward (and outbreaks will now become harder to detect), the enhanced protocols will be put back in place.
Thus, in addition to reduced testing, teams will have reduced limitations on activities that could spread the virus. It’s not a compromise as much as it is a joint capitulation by owners and players to the pandemic. The owners and players want all games to be played. And, likewise, the owners and players want their money. Now, both sides will get what they want — and plenty of people will get COVID, asymptomatic or not.