You won’t see a single NFL player or coach placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in 2022, something that has become a weekly event in professional football over the past two seasons. That’s because the list will be no more, barring an unexpected turn in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has raged on since 2020, with the NFL sending a memo to all 32 teams declaring an agreement struck with the NFLPA to suspend all COVID-19 testing — as well as all COVID-19 protocols in general (masks, contact tracing, etc.) — effective immediately, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
In an excerpt from the memo, the NFL notes its decision is based upon the overall trend of the pandemic, but does leave the door open to reenact any portion of it in the future, should things take another turn for the worse.
“Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 protocols, effective immediately. We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic. Should there be a reason to reimpose aspects of the protocols or to take other measures, we will work closely with clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community.”
You can view the full memo below:
It’s also key to note that while mandates such as masks are no longer in play from an NFL standpoint, players, coaches and front office personnel are still expected to adhere to any that remain in effect in their respective jurisdiction — i.e., local and state governments. But as far as the league is concerned, it’s back to normalcy in football.
The news comes on the same day as workouts are to begin at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where the league initially attempted to force prospects into a bubble to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The mandate was met with swift and passionate resistance from a united front that consisted of agents of prospects and the NFLPA, forcing the league to rescind the bubble requirement and allow prospects to conduct themselves freely in Indy.
And, with this, that will presumably be the last time you’ll find any mention of a potential bubble when it comes to the NFL, or anything else related to surveillance, testing and/or quarantining due to COVID-19. The league was able to produce two full seasons during the height of the pandemic with no game cancellations, despite a list of postponements due to outbreaks within respective locker rooms.
That is now officially a thing of the past.