NFL vaccine mandate: Tier 1 & Tier 2 employees required; Players want virtual offseason

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 17: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs welcomes defensive tackle Chris Jones #95 onto the field to start the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium on January 17, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The NFL sent a memo to teams regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and the upcoming 2021 season.

According to the memorandum, all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees, excluding players, will be required to be vaccinated to keep their tiered access without a “bon fide medical or religious ground.”

Tier 1 includes coaches and football personnel whose job required direct access to players for extended periods of time. Tier 2 consists of additional personnel who may come in contact with players or other Tier 1 employees.

A deal between the NFL and NFLPA says players will not be required to receive the vaccine, however the league does plan to relax some regulations as players and teams reach certain thresholds of vaccinations.

Teams are also expected to use stadiums or training facilities as vaccination sites for staff, players and family members through “Vaccination Days”, as well as provide and schedule vaccine information sessions for all personnel and families.

Clubs will need to provide a percentage of tiered staff that is vaccinated starting April 19 and weekly moving forward.

The NFLPA and NFL continue to talk about what the offseason programs are going to look like. The NFLPA has called for players to boycott any in-person programs prior to training camp, including mandatory minicamps.

“We believe that having the same offseason rules as last year is in the best interest of both the players and gives us the best chance to completing a full NFL season in 2021,” a letter to players from NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and President JC Tretter said.

Offseason programs are set to begin on Monday, April 19 and mandatory minicamps begin in June.

The Denver Broncos are the first team to release a statement with the intent to skip out on voluntary offseason programs.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and to our communities, and it makes no sense for us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period,” the statement said.

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