The NFL Players Association will soon push the NFL to resume daily testing for all players regardless of vaccination status, multiple sources tell CBS Sports.
Daily testing was the norm for players through the 2020 NFL season. But with the introduction of the vaccine, the league has altered its protocols to reflect less frequent testing for vaccinated individuals.
As of July 27, the COVID-19 testing protocols jointly agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA called for testing once every 14 days for fully vaccinated individuals. Those individuals are described as 14 days removed from the last dose of one of the three available vaccines. Any player who is not fully vaccinated — including those who have begun the vaccine process but not yet completed it — would be subject to daily testing.
Though the NFL has not mandated the vaccine for players, it has heavily incentivized getting the vaccine. On July 16, just less than 73% of players were at least partially vaccinated with less than 10 days before veterans reported to training camp. On Tuesday, the league hit the 90% mark for vaccinated players. Nine teams were at 95% or above, while 27 of the 32 teams reached at least 85%.
The incentives have been clear: want a somewhat normal life at the team facility? Get vaccinated. Otherwise, unvaccinated players would wear a mask on the team plane, have a different set of rules in the weightroom and, of course, be tested daily.
Those daily tests would, among other things, prevent players from being able to travel out of town during the team’s bye week. Also, a missed test would result in a $50,000 fine.
A return to daily testing would remove what seems to be the biggest NFL-related incentive to players to get vaccinated. That would be the issue Bengals WR Tyler Boyd would have if there’s a return to daily testing.
But concerns about the highly contagious delta variant continue, and breakthrough infections remain on the rise throughout the country and within the NFL. Colts head coach Frank Reich just returned to practice this week after testing positive on July 26 despite being fully vaccinated.
Any change to testing cadence and protocols will have to be jointly agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA. Both the league and the union have expressed their top priority is the health and safety of all players while also completing a full 272-game regular season and 13-game postseason on time.