The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t messing around on the COVID-19 front. Bruce Arians, Tom Brady, and company are trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and an outbreak could be very costly this year.
The NFL won’t bend over backwards to accommodate teams with outbreaks this year. On top of the 85-percent threshold for vaccinations that teams must meet to waive some protocols, all Tier 1 coaches and staff members must be vaccinated to participate in on-field activities and interact with players in person. Teams with outbreaks may also have to forfeit games if they cannot be made up in the existing 18-week schedule.
While many players around the league are refusing to reveal their vaccination status, it will be very apparent for Tampa. According to ProFootballTalk, Bucs players will be wearing two different wristbands at practice: red for vaccinated players, and yellow for unvaccinated players.
As Mike Florio points out, we’re going to have fans and media figures combing through practice photos with this news. It doesn’t sound like the wristbands are super noticeable, but it is almost certain that people will find out some info about where members of the Bucs stand.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 25, 2021
Arians is taking the vaccination situation very seriously. Earlier this week, it was reported that he will “fine any unvaccinated player who breaks a COVID-19 protocol $14k without a warning,” per Rick Stroud.
“He says unvaccinated players will tested 140 times. He estimates vaccinated players will be tested 14 times.”
Arians hopes to hit the 85-percent threshold around the time of the Buccaneers’ roster cuts, though it doesn’t sound like the team has gotten there yet. The NFL has really ramped up the pressure on players to get vaccinated without mandating it. Teams are continuing to do it on their end as well, with many believing that teams at the threshold will have significant, tangible advantages this season.