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Report: NFL Won't Discipline Players for 'High-Risk COVID Conduct' in Offseason

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 18, 2021

NFL logo on the field before an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

The NFL will not discipline players for "high-risk COVID conduct" this offseason, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network:

"The NFLPA informed players tonight the NFL doesn't intend to discipline players in the offseason for 'High-Risk COVID Conduct,' such as going to bars and indoor events, per source. So, any players that do go back for in-person offseason workouts won't have to live in quarantine.

"Last season, teams and the league fined players (most notable Dwayne Haskins) for a variety of off-field conduct. The NFLPA memo said the NFL maintains clubs still have the right to discipline players for violating protocols inside facilities, such as refusal to wear a mask.

"The NFLPA continues to advise players not to show up for in-person offseason workouts, and players from over half the league's teams have issued statements through the union saying all or most of them won't participate. Most teams begin offseason programs Monday."

The NFL had previously said in August that players would be subject to punishment for high-risk COVID-19 conduct, per Pelissero.

That high-risk conduct included attendance at an indoor nightclub, bar, house party, music concert/entertainment event, a non-NFL sporting event or an event prohibited by local, state or federal governments because of COVID-19. The only exceptions were if fewer than 10 or 15 people (number dependent on the specific event) were in attendance and the player was wearing PPE.

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Fines or suspensions were on the table for players who did not comply, with the max punishment being four weeks suspension without pay.

As Pelissero noted, ex-Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins was arguably the highest-profile player to receive punishment because of these rules. The former first-round draft pick was pictured at an event with strippers without a mask, and he was fined $40,000 in late December. The team and Haskins parted ways one week later.

The news that the NFL won't be imposing disciplinary measures for high-risk COVID-19 conduct occurs days after the league sent a memo strongly encouraging players and team staff members to get vaccinated.

Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the NFL encouraged using a stadium or training site to vaccinate staff, players and eligible family members. In addition, Tier 1 and Tier 2 team employees (other than players) must be vaccinated unless they have underlying medical or religious reasons.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday evening, over 82.4 million people in the United States (24.8 percent of the country's population) have been fully vaccinated.