The NFL is considering mandating COVID-19 vaccines for players despite the fact that 93% of the league's players have already been vaccinated, setting up a preseason showdown between locker rooms and front offices.

“I feel we are in a much better place than we were last year at this time because we have a much more complete understanding of this virus and its transmission, and the testing and identification of it,” said the league’s chief medical officer Allen Sills.

“I honestly don’t know where the NFL is coming from, we’ve been discussing with the players association mandatory vaccines from the start,” said NFL General Counsel Lawrence Ferazani. Ferazani added the league “would love to see the mandate go into effect tomorrow.”

The NFL’s assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah said in a written statement to the Washington Post that the union and player leadership “did not believe mandating the vaccine was the best approach.”

“We know the vaccine is effective but we also know our strict protocols--when followed are effective, we proved that last year,” Atallah added.

In order for the vaccine mandate to go into effect, it would have to be approved by the NFL Players Association. The NFL and the NFLPA have butted heads over the frequency of testing where the NFL has proposed weekly testing and the NFLPA has asked for daily testing.

During the 2020 season, the NFL had to scramble on several occasions to reschedule games due to COVID outbreaks. However, if an outbreak were to occur on any given NFL team and a game cannot be rescheduled, the team with the outbreak would be forced to forfeit, possibly hurting their chances at the playoffs.

Sills has said the NFL facilities are “the safest places in their communities” and if society had the same vaccination rates the pandemic would not be as bad as it is now. Sills says there were 68 positive tests throughout the league from Aug. 1 through last Saturday, and that unvaccinated players were seven times more likely to get the virus.

The NFL season is expected to kick off on Sept. 9 with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All 30 stadiums are expected to have full capacity crowds all season.