• Because of when it is played in the calendar year, the NFL has been able to watch and learn from other leagues’ missteps when it has come to handling things related to the COVID-19 pandemic. And given the time and examples that have come before them, part of me isn’t surprised to see the NFL take it to this level:
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason, per source.
How different will life by for vaccinated and unvaccinated players? From the memo that just went to clubs: pic.twitter.com/8yMPW0JBWZ
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 16, 2021
• It’s a heckuva thread from NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero. But at the meat of it is this: The NFL is incentivizing the heck out of vaccinations. To the point where it is truly a competitive advantage. It’s almost as if what Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians said last week was taken to heart by the league: “If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated.” As if players needed more motivation to get vaccinated beyond the basic concept of it being for the greater good of society in general. It’s as simple as this: Fully vaccinated players are allowed to get back into a normal football routine with no restrictions. Meanwhile, non-vaccinated players remain subject to a protocol that reads as equal parts rigid and tiresome. I can’t imagine players will want to be subject to that for too long.
• The Washington Post reports more than half the league’s players are vaccinated. But there is still a snapshot of players with vaccination concerns, which seems normal (all things considered). Everyone has their own beliefs, perspectives, and sensibilities. But in the end, I’m digging NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s angle (via The Athletic):
“We’ve talked about this now for four months. Their agents know, their contract advisors know, their financial advisors know. They’ve got access to team doctors, they’ve got access to our website, they have access to me, they have access to the folks who were touring and going around to camps now. … There really shouldn’t be any excuse for not having the answers to the questions that you have.”
• As for fans in the stands, vaccinated fans won’t have to wear masks at Soldier Field. And with Soldier Field at full capacity to start the 2021 season, I’m looking forward to seeing all of your beautiful faces. Although, I will admit some of your mask creativity is worth of A+ grades.
• On a much more fun note, the new Madden trailer looks FUN:
This is Madden like you’ve never seen it…
It’s a whole new vibe with ALL-NEW Dynamic Gameday
— Madden NFL 22 (@EAMaddenNFL) June 17, 2021
• The Justin Fields cameo had me hyped. I haven’t bought Madden in a looooooooong time. But having a quarterback prospect with tremendous upside and potential like Fields has me thinking twice about it. And I could go for a new gaming system. Then again, it better be compatible with College Hoops 2K8 and NCAA Football 13. I’ve got dynasties that deserve to live on forever!
• Drafting Fields means I don’t have to obsess over college quarterback prospects for a few years. But that won’t stop me from checking in on pieces like this by PFF’s Michael Renner, who previews the 2022 NFL Draft class.
• While we dream on Fields’ upside, Andy Dalton is making waves at minicamp. The Athletic’s Adam Jahns leads his notebook with an anecdote about Dalton’s deep ball. And while there will be an obvious focus on the throw itself, it’s Head Coach Matt Nagy’s acknowledging of the take-the-top-off speed aspect that piques my interest. The Bears haven’t shown much speed on the outside in recent years. And in the moments where everything was clicking, throws were too often off the mark. Ideally, Dalton and Fields change that in 2021 (and beyond).
• Obligatory minicamp highlights go here:
• It was cool to see and hear Bear Report’s Zack Pearson on the Hoge and Jahns podcast:
• Is there anything Walter Payton couldn’t do?
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) June 16, 2021
• While I’m thinking about throwbacks, I’d do unmentionable things if this Eddie Jackson was rolling up to Soldier Field on Sundays:
Eddie Jackson at Alabama is one of the most underrated highlight tapes 🔋
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 16, 2021
• It’s wild that someone with this skill set fell to the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for it … it’s just surprising.
• Dan Pompei (The Athletic) has an update regarding Mike Richardson’s legal situation in a story about how the Super Bowl Shuffle standout known as “L.A. Mike” is now dealing with a murder charge.
• I wonder if LeBron would be so outspoken if his team was still in the playoffs:
LeBron James Just Went Off on the NBA for the Condensed Schedule and Offseasonhttps://t.co/jAhNB758gh
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) June 16, 2021
• Love what Mario is doing with this series:
Chicago Blackhawks NHL Draft Wishlist: Cole Sillinger https://t.co/G23mKTUhCa
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) June 16, 2021