The NFL hasn’t made players’ vaccination mandatory but, with the union, has created some restrictions for unvaccinated players.
Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins said on social media he was unclear about what the NFL holds for him after a new league memo maintained that teams experiencing a breakout of COVID-19 among unvaccinated players may have to forfeit games.
“Never thought I would say this, But being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL,” Hopkins wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins participates in an off-season workout last month at Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center in Tempe. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
He later wrote, “Btw I got about 9 more years in me, y’all have a good day.” Hopkins left that tweet up.
The 29-year-old receiver, a three-time All-Pro selection, is in his eighth year with the league.
DeAndre Hopkins (center) escorts his aunt (left) and his mother (right) at the 2021 ESPY Awards earlier this month at Rooftop At Pier 17 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
The NFL has not made vaccination from coronavirus mandatory for its athletes but, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, has created several restrictions for unvaccinated players: They must be tested daily, must wear masks at team facilities and during travel, and they also can not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside of the organization during travel.
Additionally, unvaccinated NFLers are not allowed to eat meals with their teammates, may not use team saunas or steam rooms, and if they test positive, they are subject to quarantine.
The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
In the face of the newer, rising delta variant of COVID-19, the new NFL memo adds team penalties to those restrictions.
“If a game is canceled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the memo states.
“We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubsm,” it continues. “If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.”
The memo marks the firmest stance that the league has taken on the subject of vaccination.
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