NFL Assistant Coaches on at Least 4 Teams Reportedly Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

Adam WellsJune 4, 2021

The NFL shield / logo is seen on a goal post during an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
AP Photo/Matt Patterson

Assistant coaches on at least four NFL teams reportedly are in jeopardy of losing their Tier 1 access established by the league's health and safety protocols. 

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the coaches are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine and will be banned "from the field, meeting rooms and direct interactions with players" if they don't receive the first dose of the vaccine by the end of next week:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The NFL allows unvaccinated individuals to keep Tier 1/2 status if they provide a valid medical or religious reason, but has advised teams to consider restricting their access. For many coaches, there are two choices as of now: Get vaccinated or spend the season in your office.

When the NFL established protocols last year in order to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during the 2020 season, teams received a memo ordering them to divide their organization into tiers. 

The tiers were established to define where personnel could go in a team's facilities and who they were allowed to interact with. 

Tier 1 was for all players, coaches, trainers, physicians and necessary personnel who must have direct access to the players. 

In April, a new memo from the NFL obtained by Pelissero said all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees "should be expected to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so."

Last month, per NFL.com's Judy Battista, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on a conference call that 30 of the 32 teams have "more than 90 percent of their Tier 1 and 2 personnel—coaches and staff—vaccinated, and the remaining two teams are above 85 percent."

The memo did note the league would only make an exception for people who have "either a religious or medical reason," but anyone who didn't have a legitimate reason for not getting vaccinated would lose the access provided to Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. 

The NFL and NFL Players Association have not mandated anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but the league and union are strongly encouraging everyone to get it. 

Most teams still have at least one more round of organized team activities remaining before departing for a few weeks. Training camp is set to begin on July 29 for 29 of the league's 32 clubs. 


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