Fully vaccinated NFL players, staff don’t have to wear masks

FILE - This Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 file photo shows the NFL logo at a stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Thousands of retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the controversial use of race-norming to determine which players are eligible for payouts in the NFLs $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims, a system experts say is discriminatory. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)
FILE - This Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 file photo shows the NFL logo at a stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Thousands of retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the controversial use of race-norming to determine which players are eligible for payouts in the NFLs $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims, a system experts say is discriminatory. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The NFL is not requiring fully vaccinated players and staff to wear masks at team facilities following the CDC’s latest guidance regarding COVID-19.

In a memo sent to clubs on Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, the league and the NFL Players Association made the modification after consulting with their medical and scientific experts. Players and tiered staff who haven’t been fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks until they receive it, if they plan to get it.

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski learned of the news on the practice field during rookie camp. The reigning NFL Coach of the Year was able to take his mask off for the first time as a head coach.

“It felt pretty good. There were some people I didn’t realize what they looked like,” he said.

Clubs were told to review current and local state regulations and to have the vaccine available for players and staff.

“We expect additional modifications will be made to the protocols consistent with CDC guidelines reflecting the greatly reduced risk of viral infection and transmission in fully vaccinated individuals,” the memo read.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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