The NFL is once again altering its COVID-19 protocols as the Omicron variant spreads through the country.
In accordance from an announcement made by the CDC, the league has reduced the quarantine period for all COVID-positive players to just five days. This means that unvaccinated players will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days like they’ve done for the entire year.
The key here is that this applies to asymptomatic personnel. If a player tests positive—regardless of vaccination status—and does not showcase symptoms after five days, he is eligible to return. He can return earlier if he tests negative twice, which has been the standard for vaccinated personnel this year.
One potential issue to all this is how symptoms are reported, or not reported. Per The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones, the league is not required to test players who hope to come off the COVID list after five days, so players can theoretically still be COVID positive and return if they’re asymptomatic or do not reveal their symptoms to the team.
There is no testing requirement for NFL players to be released from quarantine after five days, source confirms. So this will all hinge on players honestly reporting their symptoms after testing positive.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) December 28, 2021
While this will surely limit the number of players staying on the COVID list for elongated periods of time, this may not reduce the number of cases that are continuing to spread throughout the league.
On Wednesday, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt tested positive and was placed on the COVID list. Under these protocols, he can return if he tests negative in the coming days, but the five day quarantine period would have him missing Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs if he’s still experiencing symptoms before then.
While the league is following some recommendations from the CDC, these additional guidelines indicate they simply don’t want crucial players missing games, or for games to be cancelled due to known outbreaks. They want to get through the season and stay on schedule. Always follow the money.