As the 2021 football season kicks off on Thursday, the National Football League is stressing the importance of coming together as a country to get vaccinated.
“Something we communicate to the general public is that we’d love to get back to normalcy but we as a country aren’t there yet,” said Brian McCarthy, VP of communications at the NFL.
The league has been using its “unparalleled platform” to encourage its players, personnel and fans to get information about vaccines and get vaccinated, McCarthy added,
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other key spokespeople, such as the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, have been providing public information through broadcast appearances on NFL partner outlets such as ESPN, CBS and Fox.
This week, the NFL launched the #WeRunAsOne campaign with creative agency 72andSunny Los Angeles. McCarthy said the message serves as an analogy for the entire country coming together for the upcoming season.
With 32 teams across the country, each follows local, state and federal laws. And COVID-19-related issues can be very local. Currently, all of the game locations have clearance for full stadium attendance, dependent upon the jurisdiction in each of the communities.
The league follows the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It helps with establishing protocols and providing signage templates, which each of the clubs can customize based on local rules.
As the overarching umbrella association, the NFL stays in touch with the league offices, the clubs and the National Football League Players Association, which is the players’ union. It also keeps open lines of communications with the Oval Office.
Just prior to Super Bowl LV in February, the NFL offered 21 stadiums where people could go to get vaccines. Nearly five million COVID-19 shots have been administered in them this year.
Additionally, the NFL has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for the 13,000 team personnel, allowing for religious or medical exemptions. Although requested, the NFL Players Association voted against required vaccinations. The NFL, the association and the teams have been providing educational materials and programs with medical experts to speak with the players.
This summer, the NFL also instituted a tougher policy. If a game cancellation results from COVID-19, the team with an overwhelming number of positive tests will be held responsible, made to forfeit the game and neither team’s players will get paid.
Last year, more than 1.2 million people attended 119 games, with no COVID clusters attributed to NFL games, according to McCarthy. However, he clarified that the stadiums were not operating in full capacity.
This year, the season-ticket renewal rate is 93%, at a five-year high. Throughout preseason, 98% of all tickets have been on mobile devices.