Bubble Burst: NFL Makes Changes To Combine ‘Bubble’ Following Threat Of Boycott

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Turns out, all it took was a little pressure from a few NFL agents in order to get the NFL combine to relent on it’s COVID-19 “bubble.” 

On Sunday, NFL agents representing 150 NFL prospects threatened a boycott of the 2022 NFL combine following news that draft prospects will be in a COVID-19 “bubble,” restricting prospects to secure areas inside the combine. 

“Agents representing more than 150 draft prospects are organizing a boycott of all testing, on-field workouts and interviews at next month’s NFL scouting combine if heavy ‘bubble’ restrictions aren’t changed, sources tell me and [Tom Pelissero],” Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Twitter. 

One of the key concerns of the agents was that players would not have full access to their personal trainer, nutritionists, and doctors, according to ESPN.

On Monday, the National Invitational Combine (NIC) amended their “bubble” restrictions at the combine, informing players in a memo.

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we continue to evolve our combine policies and procedures in consultation with medical experts,” the memo said. “While masks continue to be required for air travel and during medical exams at the combine (players and medical personnel), wearing a mask at other times while on site is recommended, but not required.”

“We encourage all players to remain within the secure combine areas at all times for your safety,” the memo continued. “However, if you would like to leave the secure areas during free time in your schedule, you are now permitted to do so at your own risk.”

The 2022 NFL combine will begin March 1 following a year in which the combine was canceled altogether due to COVID-19 concerns. 

On Saturday, the NFL sent a memo to all draft prospects regarding the rules at the 2022 draft combine. 

“The 2022 NFL Combine features key changes designed to improve the overall player experience and protect the players from a health safety standpoint,” the NFL said in the memo. “This includes fewer days on site, reduced testing schedule, new communication platform, scheduled medical examination, customized meal options/timing, single room accommodations and secure environment to reduce distractions and help limit potential COVID exposure.”

Per the NFL’s memo, players would have been “restricted to secure Combine venues” while in Indianapolis, the location of the 2022 NFL Combine. Players who violated the policy would have been sent home. 

In the initial memo, the NFL reiterated that all individuals with access to players must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccination requirement was not addressed in the NIC’s memo to players on Monday. 

Prior to the beginning of the 2021 season, the NFL required that all Tier 1 staff — which includes coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers, and staff — be fully vaccinated unless they receive a medical or religious exemption. 

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]

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