NFL memo says it expects all teams' ops staffs to get vaccine unless 'bona fide' reason not to

The NFL expects the key members of each team's football operations staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a "bona fide" medical or religious reason not to, according to a memo issued to all clubs Tuesday.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said last month that no NFL employee, including players, would be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, and that remains the case. Tuesday's edict, however, outlines the repercussions for those Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees who choose not to. Those groups do not include players, but rather coaches, front-office executives, medical personnel, video specialists and others who traditionally work closely with players.

According to the memo, "any staffer that refuses to be vaccinated without either a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or 2 status and therefore will not be permitted access to the 'football only' restricted area and may not work directly or in close proximity with players." Non-vaccinated employees also won't be eligible for an anticipated relaxation of certain COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated individuals.

The league's vaccination arrangement with players is being negotiated separately with the NFL Players Association, along with other pandemic-related offseason protocols. In the meantime, teams have been asked to file weekly reports on employee vaccination numbers. The NFL and NFLPA are exchanging proposals on a vaccination threshold for individual teams that, according to Tuesday's memo, would "give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements relating to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects."