DENVER — The NFL is not mandating vaccines for players, but continues to encourage teams to make it available.
The Broncos will provide the Pfizer vaccine for players, coaches, staff and adult family members next Wednesday. The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots with the second date scheduled for May 13.
This was in motion for weeks, spearheaded by Brittany Bowlen as she worked with state officials and in coordination with UCHealth, the team's health care provider.
Making the vaccine available was unrelated to the Broncos players informing the team on Tuesday that they would be opting out of voluntary workouts over COVID-19 concerns. This process has been in the works long before the Broncos players made their decisionl which was related to COVID-19 concerns and other issues with NFL owners.
The players were pushing back against reporting without an outlined NFL offseason plan, feeling it did not make sense for the onus to be on them to "figure it out," as union rep Brandon McManus told Denver7, if they reported for voluntary workouts.
After making proposals to the union without hearing back, the NFL released the offseason schedule on Wednesday. It's unclear if the events over the last 24 hours will prompt the Broncos players to reconsider their stance, but McManus appeared to leave the door ajar when speaking on 104.3 The Fan on Wednesday.
"Our team voted based on the information we had at that time. I’m sure everyone would love to reconvene. I’m sure we will. Obviously we need to digest it. There’s a lot of underwriting to these things," McManus said. "It would be unjust for us to not speak to our guys, and now that we have more information, we’ll reconvene about what we think is best moving forward. If some players still believe that we shouldn’t go, then we’ll handle that in-house. And if people want to go… it is voluntary, but what we wanted to do with our original statement was make it from a team standpoint. I don’t think it’s something that can’t be reversed. I’d say we got a reaction from the NFL because now we have a statement."
The NFL offseason programs calls for a nine-week period from mid-April through mid-June with daily COVID-19 tests provided during in-person activities:
- The first phase (April 19-May 14) permits two hours of virtual meetings with off-field drills not allowed.
- The second phase (May 17-21) includes virtual meetings and on-field drills with coaches.
- The third phase (May 24-June 18) involves mandatory minicamp with 10 days of traditional OTAs and meetings.
According to ESPN, 203 NFL players have incentives tied to showing up at offseason workouts.
Will the players maintain a unified front about the offseason, while permitting players to earn their money by showing up to team facilities? The Broncos had players in their facility on Wednesday, and have had 22 total working out there this offseason, many of whom are recovering from or rehabbing injuries.
Now, the issues become more interesting as young players can benefit from in-person activity, players are insured if working at the team facility, while some vets understandably would rather go with an entirely virtual offseason.
The NFLPA advised all players to opt out of voluntary activity, and on Tuesday four teams joined the Broncos: the Seahawks, Lions, Buccaneers and Patriots.