NFL is Cranking Up COVID Protocols Ahead of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays.

It is a day where friends and family come together. Not for gifts, but for food, fun, football, some adult beverages, and the occasional midnight run for Black Friday shopping. The looming cloud of COVID-19 threw Thanksgiving for a loop for many families last year. And while things are trending toward a new normal, the NFL is taking some additional precautionary measures in an attempt to better ensure the health and safety of its players:

NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero shares an important league memo. One detailing increased protocols to be in place from Thanksgiving through Dec. 1. And in case you need a reminder, Thanksgiving is two Thursdays from now. Just in case you need to be brought up to speed. Heightened protocols requiring players and staff to wear masks/face coverings inside them facilities, regardless of vaccination status, is one notable measure. However, it’s not as if these protocols are going beyond what was previously agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA before the season. In short, it seems like a heady gesture. And it might be worth it in the grand scheme of things.

Also notable is that NFL Dr. Allen Sills notes the league is coming off a week that featured the highest number of positive COVID results all year, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. That is a troubling trend, even if those numbers are lower than what general numbers are around the country. Perhaps this is aiding in driving the NFL to install protocols around Thanksgiving.

Between an upward trend of increasing cases around the country, coupled with the league having some high-profile COVID cases of its own (such as Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger), perhaps the timing to enact these measures is right. And because the league made note that failure to enforce protocols could lead to disciplinary action, I imagine teams will fall in line — especially with the stretch run being right in front of everyone. Plus, with the NFL’s light punishment of the Packers serving as a soft warning, I can’t believe a team (or any players) would want to be the ones the league comes down hard on when it comes to this.

As a reminder, the Bears will play on Thanksgiving. The Bears and Lions kick off Turkey Day festivities with an 11:30 a.m. kickoff on FOX. Chicago will be off until Dec. 5, when it hosts the Arizona Cardinals. So the mini-bye during the 10 days between games will chew into some of the team’s time under the protocol. Nevertheless, we should use this as a reminder to take extra precautions this time of year. We all want each other to have a healthy holiday season and a strong finish to the football year.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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