After a season of games played in empty stadiums, daily COVID-19 tests and mask mandates for players and coaches, the NFL is pushing for a return to normalcy in 2021.
But embedded in the league’s strides for safe and healthy environments for players and fans has come a drastic shift in protocols.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported that unvaccinated players “will be severely restricted within and outside” team facilities and “face five-figure fines for violating protocols” this season.
While the NFL is not forcing players to get vaccinated, those who enter the season unvaccinated will be under considerably more pressure.
The latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!
‘Why Not Put Yourself in the Best Position to Win’
Seemingly every week last season put both individual players and entire teams chances of playing at risk — be it possible exposure or false-negative tests.
NFL personnel from top to bottom of organizations faced hurdles that could impact the entire franchise.
Peterson’s case for the vaccine was to put the team in the best position for success by not facing the uncertainty of possible exposure and quarantine.
“If, you’re not vaccinated, you’re just living in a different world. Why put yourself at risk of going through that again. Everybody has their different views on the (vaccine),” Peterson said. “But at the end of the day if we all in this in trying to win a championship and there’s a very small percentage of those shots affecting people, why not put yourself in the best position possible to win a championship if that’s what you have a desire of doing.”
The Washington Post reported that roughly half of the league’s players had been vaccinated as of June 15, per Cronin. Sixteen teams have more than 50 of their 90 players vaccinated and three have 70 or more vaccinated.
As more players move towards becoming fully vaccinated, those unvaccinated will have an entirely different experience, including not traveling with the rest of the team, lack of access to teams’ nutritional amenities and other restrictions.
Die-hard Vikings fan? Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content out of Skol Nation!
Mike Zimmer Makes Case for Vaccine
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made his case for getting vaccinated, adding to Peterson’s claim that unvaccinated players would have an entirely different experience than the team.
Here’s Zimmer’s take on vaccines from a press conference earlier in June, per Cronin.
It’s not only the safety part of being vaccinated, but as far as being a part of a football team.
For me, for instance, I don’t have to wear a mask. We had a staff meeting the other day and everybody is in the same room. We can sit there and talk as opposed to doing this like we’re doing here. I know you guys know, I don’t like doing all of the media stuff, but I would much rather be sitting in a room talking to you then up at this camera and looking down at you.
They [unvaccinated players] are going to be wearing masks, they’re going to have to social distance, they’ll have daily testing.They won’t go home for bye week and have to come back here and test every day. When we go on the road, they won’t be able to go out to dinner with anybody. They’ll have to travel on buses differently and travel on planes differently, so a lot of meetings will be virtual like we have here.