This week, every NFL team had to reduce its roster from 80 players to just 53. But will some not get a shot because they won't get a shot?
"The decisions are made primarily on your ability to get a job done and help that team get to the Super Bowl," explained Carl Francis, Director of Communications for the NFL Players Association.
But a trip to the Super Bowl could be derailed by a COVID outbreak, which could similarly throw a wrench into the NFL's 18-week regular season schedule.
Which is why this season, the league has placed heavy restrictions on unvaccinated players and said teams will forfeit - meaning the loss of paychecks - if players who did not get the COVID vaccine cause a game to be canceled because of an outbreak within the team.
In a one-on-one interview with Carl Francis, ABC13's Adam Winkler asked if the NFLPA believes vaccination status factors in to roster decisions, which rules prevent.
"I want to believe that everyone, all teams, are evaluating players to win football games because that's the crux of their job," Francis stated.
SEE ALSO: What should fans expect when another high school football season begins amid COVID?
The NFL does not mandate its players receive the vaccine. As the regular season approaches, ABC13 asked Francis to compare the outlook on this season as opposed to the 2020 regular season.
"We were in the unknown last year. We were working in a space of uncertainty," Francis recalled. "We, as the NFLPA, just don't represent active players, we represent their families, represent their kids, represent everybody. So we have to protect the institution of our membership to ensure that they are healthy."
So what's the message to players still resisting the vaccine?
"We have to do everything in our power to protect them, represent them and ensure that they get all the information they need to allow them to make the best decision for them and their families," Francis said. "We must all protect other people that are part of this game, and more importantly, they're humans that are part of this game."
Humans that are also part of a team - a team reliant upon players being healthy and able to take the field.
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NFL Players Association believes teams aren't evaluating players on vaccination status
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