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NFL to honor health care workers, encourage coronavirus vaccinations at Super Bowl

NFL to honor health care workers, encourage coronavirus vaccinations at Super Bowl
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The NFL hopes to honor health care workers at the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla. in February, including by inviting vaccinated front-line workers to the event, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday. 

The owners of the league’s 32 teams met virtually Wednesday to discuss the possibility to host health care workers, as well as plans to encourage people throughout the game to get the coronavirus vaccine and continue following safety guidelines, such as wearing face masks in public. 

“As we all know, these front-line workers are true American heroes and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” Goodell said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. “We also know that we need to rely on them for months to come to distribute vaccines and continue to treat all of those that are ill from covid and other illnesses.”

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“We’re currently discussing with public health officials … our desire to invite the vaccinated health care workers to the Super Bowl as our guests,” he added. “Subject to the public health officials and their approval, we will do this in a safe and responsible way.”

Earlier Wednesday, Goodell also mentioned the desire to honor health workers at the Feb. 7 game at Raymond James Stadium in a letter to Rob Higgins, president of Tampa’s Super Bowl host committee. 

“We all know that over the past year, these frontline workers have put their own lives at risk to the benefit of society and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” Goodell wrote. “We also know that they will remain essential for months to come to treat those who are ill and administer vaccines.”

“We hope that in some small way, this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes as we look forward to a better and healthier year,” he added. 

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Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events, told reporters following Wednesday’s meeting that officials have not yet decided on a specific capacity for the Super Bowl game, nor how many vaccinated health care workers they would be able to invite. 

“We’ll continue to work through that with our medical partners and determine that in the weeks ahead,” O’Reilly said, according to the Post. 

This comes as health care professionals began receiving doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday after it received emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. 

USA Today reported that owners also discussed in Wednesday’s meeting the expansion of the regular season to 17 games. 

Last spring, the owners and players union agreed in a collective bargaining agreement to allow for 17 games for all teams, which could come as soon as 2021. 

Goodell said a vote on the game schedule could come within the next few weeks, according to USA Today.