NFL reducing COVID-19 quarantine time from 10 days to five for all players

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have adopted the CDC’s new guidelines and reduced quarantine time from 10 days to five days for players who test positive for COVID-19, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). This is relevant for all asymptomatic players, regardless of vaccination status.

As NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero notes on Twitter, a player’s ability to return to the field isn’t necessarily contingent on being asymptomatic. Rather, his return will need to be at least five days after his initial swap, the player will need to have no fevers for 24 hours, he’ll need to see “resolved or improved” symptoms (such as coughing), and he will need to be cleared by team doctors (“in consultation with ICS and NFL“).

This will naturally lead to a quicker return-to-play path. Per Lindsay Jones of The Athletic (on Twitter), the NFL is the first professional sports league to change protocols to “align” with the CDC’s guidelines. Following the NFL’s decision to postpone several games earlier this month, the league is now clearly focused on finishing the regular season without any more postponements or cancellations.

The new protocols are retroactive, meaning players who are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list are eligible to return after five days (per ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Twitter). As Pelissero tweets, this provides some clarity on a handful of unvaccinated players who were recently placed on the list, a group that includes Colts quarterback Carson Wentz and Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams.