NFL Issues New Sideline Mask Mandate in Updated COVID-19 Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2020

Members of the Cincinnati Bengals on the sidelines before the start of the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

The NFL updated its COVID-19 protocols to require players to use face masks on the sideline when they aren't wearing their helmet or entering a game.

The new rules will begin in Week 12, starting with the league's three Thanksgiving Day games. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero shared the official memo:

The NFL said players who don't follow the new mask guidelines could face discipline: "Clubs are required to enforce these rules. Violations by players and/or staff will result in accountability measures being imposed upon the Club. It is strongly recommended that each Club designate one or two individuals in the Bench Area to ensure compliance with these rules."

Coaches who only wear face shields while calling plays will also now have to use a mask or double-layered gaiter.

Another change in the COVID-19 policy is that teams can only have 62 players in a traveling party, a number that includes any players on injured reserve.

NFL officials are continuing to react to the rising number of new coronavirus cases across the country.

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Last week, all 32 teams entered the COVID-19 intensive protocol. Among other things, face masks must be worn at team facilities and on the practice field, and no coach or player can enter the facility without having tested negative the day before.

Based on how the NFL handled coaches in violation of the COVID-19 protocols, players can expect a hefty financial penalty if they're failing to adhere to the mask mandates.

In September, a handful of head coaches received $100,000 fines for not properly wearing their masks during games. Their respective teams had to pay out a $250,000 fine as well.