On the same day reports surfaced that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time since last fall, there’s encouraging news in the league’s battle to hold another season amid the ongoing pandemic.
Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons reported Wednesday afternoon that 18 NFL teams have at least 90% of their players vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 14 teams the previous day. Additionally, 86.9% of players league-wide have received at least one vaccine shot. That number was 85% as of Tuesday.
The league previously informed teams that some health and safety protocols can be loosened for clubs that reach an 85% vaccination rate among players.
The NFL and NFL Players Association are not mandating players get vaccinated to participate in the upcoming season, but the NFL previously threatened that teams could be forced to forfeit if unable to play during a week because of a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated personnel. The league has also said it could withhold game checks for matchups unplayed because of coronavirus-related issues, and that unvaccinated players can be fined each time they violate COVID-19 protocols.
In short, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t kidding when he said last month that unvaccinated players will “have a harder time” from the early days of training camp through the campaign.