Bruce Arians may implement mask mandate at facility, but won’t restrict player movement at home
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has said that, when the team is on the road this year, the same procedures will apply as in 2020. No one will be leaving the hotel, even if vaccinated.
Beyond that, Arians is not yet ready to implement other 2020 protocols.
Arians, who explained to reporters on Sunday how easy it is to transmit the virus among vaccinated players and staff, said that the topic of a mask mandate in the facility will be discussed after the players return from a four-day break before preparations commence for Week One.
“It’s something we’ll talk about as a team,” Arians said. “We’re definitely going back to last year’s meetings, where we’re all spread out. Because our facility’s so good, we can do that. That’s the biggest thing as far as masks. Until I’m ready to wear one, then I won’t require anyone else to wear one.”
Arians apparently doesn’t expect any resistance from his players if a mask mandate returns to One Buc Place.
“Our guys are very, very aware of the situation and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t affect our team,” Arians said.
Here’s one more reason to seriously consider masks: Arians won’t require vaccinated players to restrict their movement when not at work.
“No, that will be a personal thing,” Arians said. “Our guys are very, very smart on who to be with, where to be and how to handle themselves. Whether or not they go to restaurants and those type of things, we’ll talk about that at a later date.”
Teams arguably can’t mandate practices more stringent than the protocol established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Thus, whether it’s restricted movement while on the road or mask mandates for vaccinated players in the facility or anything else more extensive than the rules negotiated by management and labor, the Bucs could end up inviting a fracas with the union if broader and more restrictive rules are mandated by the team.
For the Bucs, a quick and easy loophole exists. Arians just needs to step back and let quarterback Tom Brady (who apparently has come a long way from “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) tell the players what they can and can’t do.