NFL says vaccinated Goodell can hug draft prospects

NFL says vaccinated Goodell can hug draft prospects
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been given the green light to return to hugging players after he received the COVID-19 vaccine, the NFL said Friday.

The decision was announced during a league conference call ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, to be held April 29 through May 1 in Cleveland.

Goodell's hugging tradition is believed to have started in 2010 with player Gerald McCoy and has been a staple of the draft ever since.

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The announcement about Goodell comes two weeks after the NFL updated its draft policy to state that teams would will be allowed in their draft rooms during the event. Among the stipulations are that social distancing must be adhered to and that eating and drinking in the rooms will be prohibited. 

This year, 13 high-profile NFL prospects will attend the annual event, and an additional 45 have been confirmed to take part virtually, the NFL noted. Last year's event was conducted fully remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said Thursday that the league does not have any plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for players. Masks are still required regardless of whether an individual has been vaccinated.