Roger Goodell

ROGER GOODELL

The NFL is modifying COVID-19 protocols for all personnel who have been fully vaccinated.

In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell to the 32 clubs Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, he cited the “advice of our medical and scientific experts” for the agreement to modify protocols to ”reflect the reduced risk of infection and transmission for fully vaccinated individuals.”

“There is no question that being vaccinated is the single most important step that anyone can take to be protected – and to protect others – from the virus,” Goodell noted.

Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals in the NFL (players, coaches, staff and executives) are no longer required to be tested each day for the novel coronavirus. Instead, they must be tested weekly on a monitoring basis.

They also are no longer required to submit to lengthy “entry” testing following travel, and are not required to quarantine if identified as a “high risk close contact” with an infected individual.

“The NFL and NFLPA will closely monitor the impact of these changes and will consider additional modifications to the protocols as vaccination levels in club facilities increase,” Goodell wrote. “In the meantime, fully vaccinated individuals and other tiered staff and players must continue to wear masks and (contact warning) devices while in the club facility, and adhere to the other provisions of the protocols.”

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BEARS: Steve McMichael, a star defensive tackle on the Chicago Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl championship team, says he has been diagnosed with ALS.

The 63-year-old McMichael told the Chicago Tribune in an article published Friday that he is battling the condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.

“I promise you, this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now? This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end,” McMichael told the Tribune.

McMichael had been experiencing tingling in his arms for some time that he figured was a neck or spine issue stemming from his playing days or his work as a professional wrestler. A neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic suggested in September he had ALS. McMichael sought other opinions, and in January, doctors in Chicago confirmed the diagnosis.

He said he decided to go public with his condition because he wanted people to know why he will no longer make appearances or provide analysis of the Bears on Chicago’s WMVP-AM.

With his booming voice and larger-than-life personality, McMichael has been a fixture for decades in Chicago. Drafted out of Texas by New England in the third round in 1980, he was cut by the Patriots a year later. He signed with the Bears and spent 13 seasons with them.

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CHIEFS-RAVENS TRADE: The Chiefs plugged the biggest hole on their AFC champion roster Friday when they acquired two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown from the Ravens for a package of draft picks, including the No. 31 overall selection this year.

BROWNS: Cleveland exercised the fifth-year contract options on quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward, the respective Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks three years ago who have become integral to Cleveland’s newfound success.

Mayfield bounced back from a shaky 2019 season to threw 30 touchdown passes last season while leading the Browns to an 11-5 regular-season record, their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season and their first postseason win since 1994 — a wild-card victory over rival Pittsburgh.

The 25-year-old is the franchise QB the Browns have longed for, and now the club will consider signing him to a long-term extension. In the meantime, Mayfield is under contract for the next two seasons, with his 2022 salary guaranteed for $18.8 million.

STEELERS: Cornerback Justin Layne was arrested in Ohio after police said they found a loaded gun in his car during an early morning traffic stop.

Layne, 23, was arrested on a fourth-degree felony charge of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, Willoughby Hills police said.

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Police said they stopped Layne at about 1:20 a.m. when his Dodge Charger was going 89 mph in a 60 mph zone. A records check showed he was driving with a suspended license and he had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a traffic violation in another jurisdiction, police said.

They said they searched the car after smelling marijuana and seeing loose particles of it scattered throughout the vehicle. That search revealed a loaded Glock pistol in the center console, police said. They said Layne wasn’t a licensed conceal-carry permit holder in Ohio.

Layne was arrested on the gun charge and cited on the related traffic violations. He was taken to the county jail to await arraignment.

DRAFT: Thirteen prospects will attend next week’s NFL draft in person.

One year after the entire draft was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is attempting to return to some normalcy. Most of the 13 players coming to Cleveland are expected to be selected in the first round.

Five members of national champion Alabama will attend: quarterback Mac Jones, defensive lineman Christian Barmore, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and receivers Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.

Also accepting invitations were BYU quarterback Zach Wilson and North Dakota State QB Trey Lance; LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase; Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau; Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater; Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons; and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.


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