The NFL-NFL Players Association COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 season are a little more relaxed than they were a season ago, but Bruce Arians isn't about to take any chances.
Arians told reporters Wednesday he is implementing his own set of COVID-related rules for players on his team this season that will look a lot like last year. The main difference: Arians' players -- vaccinated or unvaccinated -- won't be allowed to leave the team hotel or have family visits during road trips.
Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop, who was within NFL-NFLPA protocol as a fully vaccinated player, tested positive for COVID-19 following a dinner he had with members of the Tennessee Titans, Succop's former team. NFL rules currently state that fully vaccinated players are permitted to interact with vaccinated family and friends during road trips. Under Arians' rules, Succop and every other Buccaneer will not be permitted to go to such events during the season.
"For us, life is not normal," Arians said. "We're pretty much under the same protocols as last year. Just because that's the way it is, especially living here. With Tennessee coming in and going out to dinner, they found out the hard way and so did Ryan.
"We can only tell them so much, but once we get to 53 -- even this weekend, our guys are going to make a bunch of sacrifices that you have to make now. Families at the hotel, all of those things are all out the window."
Coaches have room to implement team rules within reason (i.e., dress codes for road games, curfews, etc.), so Arians' decision to keep his players in the hotel seems to fall within those bounds.
"There's league rules and then there are my rules," Arians said. "They aren't going anywhere. We're doing the same as last year. I don't give a crap if they're vaccinated or not. They're not going anywhere."
Tampa Bay takes on Dallas to kick off the 2021 NFL season on Sept. 9. The Bucs will host the Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium, where they won Super Bowl LV.