Last year, the logistics of COVID testing made it highly unlikely that a player would become unavailable to play on the day of a game, even if a sample collected before kickoff ultimately was determined to be positive for the virus. This year, players tested on game day will know well before kickoff whether they are positive — and whether they therefore will not be allowed to play.
It’s a twist that arises directly from the league’s reliance on on-site PCR testing technology. And it applies only to unvaccinated players.
In what becomes yet another reason for remaining unvaccinated players to get the shot(s), only unvaccinated players will be required to submit to game day testing. Thus, only unvaccinated players can be scratched on the day of the game due to a positive test result.
By rule, the testing must be conducted no later that four hours before kickoff. This will ensure that teams will know if unvaccinated players are positive (and thus unavailable to play) well before the time the game starts.
So, to put it bluntly, unvaccinated players will wake up on the day of a game with one final hurdle to suiting up. If they test positive, they don’t play. (And they’re knocked out for at least 10 days, which means they’ll likely miss at least one more game.)
Another potential issue arises for unvaccinated players on game day. If one unvaccinated player tests positive, contact tracing must promptly be conducted to determine whether other unvaccinated players are close contacts. By rule, those players can’t play, either.
Thus, the situation that happened earlier this month in Minnesota, when unvaccinated quarterback Kellen Mond tested positive and unvaccinated quarterback Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley were deemed to be close contacts, could happen for teams with unvaccinated players. Road teams necessarily will be at enhanced risk of unvaccinated players being deemed in close contact with an unvaccinated player who tests positive, given the realities of airplane travel, etc.
There’s an easy way to avoid these potential complications, which could dramatically affect a team’s ability to win a given game. Get vaccinated. It’s the right thing for the player, the player’s family, the team, the league, and the communities in which the team plays.
Unvaccinated players will be at very real risk of being scratched on game day originally appeared on Pro Football Talk