As COVID lingers, NFL’s COVID protocols are gone -- likely for good
Training camps start opening today, with Buffalo and Las Vegas rookies reporting for duty. As they do, the NFL’s various teams will be gathering and working and practicing and traveling with no COVID protocols of any kind.
All protocols were suspended in March. No protocols have been put back in place. If there were going to be any standard procedures for camp, they’d presumably be in place before the first camps open.
Like so much of the country, it will be very difficult to put the COVID-is-over toothpaste back in the tube. That’s the prevailing attitude, even as the Omicron BA.5 subvariant circulates faster than any version of the virus.
The symptoms are generally less severe, with BA.5 causing more upper and lower respiratory issues. And while BA.5 is better adept at eluding vaccinations, those who have been vaccinated have greater protections against serious injury or death.
Regardless, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have no current inclination to restore past protocols. The problem for the league and some of its teams becomes the potential resurrection of state or local rules regarding masks, which could return as the BA.5 variant continues to spread. Los Angeles, where two NFL teams play their homes games, could be the first place to do it.
For now, the teams will reconvene without the rules and regulations that complicated the past two seasons. There will be no testing. There will be no mandatory absence in the event of testing positive. There will be no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated (and, thus, no reason for anyone to lie about being vaccinated by saying, “yeah, I’ve been immunized” and then blaming reporters for not asking a follow-up question).
Good, bad, or somewhere in between, that’s just the way it will be this year. It’s the way it is everywhere. COVID is over, even if it isn’t.