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Bears, NFL, to start off-season program hybrid

Organized team activities will begin virtually. But with COVID-19 vaccinations ramping up, that virtual reality is not expected to stay steady.

NFL: JUN 05 Chicago Bears OTA Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Like it did for most, the COVID-19 pandemic made out an unprecedented year for the NFL last season. Off-season activities were held virtually, taught over platforms like Zoom. When the time for training camp rolled in, formal testing protocols made for an overall more restricted process around every franchise’s main facilities. By the time the regular season rolled in, an extremely limited number of fans were allowed in a minimal amount of stadiums across the country, with most having spectators barred outright.

One piece of the puzzle, the entire training format, is now set to shift a little over a year later.

When all 32 teams begin their off-season programs on April 19, they will again meet virtually in a main context, at least initially. But according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, the rest of the spring and summer has not been written off to webcam necessity. Not in the least.

Every NFL team will still report to OTA’s with “sufficient testing protocols and supplies.” But those procedures are expected to be alleviated closer to the summer for vaccinated individuals, including the need for daily testing. These developments are in concert with recent national reports that those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 do not carry the virus.

The entire memo sent to all 32 clubs, regarding COVID-19 protocols and preparation over the next four months, can be read through below:

It was, predictably, only a matter of time the United States’ largest sports institution would jump at positive vaccine news and apply it to on-field work. The Bears will report for “voluntary” team activities to Halas Hall on April 19, along with the rest of the league to their respective headquarters.