2021 NFL Media Access Policy (PDF Version)
Reasonable cooperation with the news media is essential to the continuing popularity of our game. The Media Access Policy is reviewed and updated annually, including to ensure compliance with all NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols. In 2021, those protocols dictate that media access to club facilities, the stadium press box, playing field and sidelines, and postgame interview rooms will only be available to media that have obtained a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination.
1. POST-GAME ACCESS — After a reasonable waiting period, defined as 10-15 minutes maximum after the completion of the game and the players have entered the locker room, post-game interviews will begin.
As per NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, there will be no general post-game open locker room period. Player interviews will be conducted in-person – all media members must be vaccinated to participate – with players and coaches maintaining physical distance from members of the media. There are no physical distancing requirements for members of the media from each other.
Each club must bring the head coach and several players to the interview area as soon as possible. Media may make interview requests for specific players, and clubs should make their best effort to accommodate these requests. At the discretion of the club, one-on-one interviews with players are permitted, as long as applicable protocols are adhered to at all times.
Postgame interview rooms for the home and visiting teams may be arranged to accommodate multiple speakers simultaneously, observing physical distance. The number of vaccinated media permitted to access postgame interviews is at the discretion of the club. Space must be reserved for one NFL Films camera in each interview room.
The home team is responsible for setting up interview areas in its home stadium for both the home and visiting team. The interview area must include a riser/head table for the coach/player, microphones for the speakers and a camera platform in the back of the room. The home team must ensure that the visiting team interview area is of adequate size to conduct a professional news conference. Access to the area should be restricted to working media only.
2. FIELD ACCESS —The NFL Gameday Field Access Policy specifies that local media and broadcast television affiliates will not exceed 30 people with field access, of which 12 must be offered to the visiting team. NFL Broadcast Policy dictates that each club may accredit between one and five local broadcast television video cameras on the sidelines to serve as the pool feed. These individuals must be accounted for in the club’s local media and broadcast television affiliates allotment. Club in-house media as well as league media/partners are categorized separately for the purposes of in-game field access. Access to the field-area pregame is a club decision, subject to all relevant league and broadcast policies, as is postgame field access once players and coaches have departed the field.
3. WEEKLY REGULAR-SEASON MEDIA ACCESS — Beginning no later than the week prior to the opening of the regular season through the playoffs, each club will have media access during the normal practice week (based on a Sunday game) on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for all accredited, vaccinated media for in-person interviews.
All in-person interviews must observe physical-distance, in accordance with applicable protocols.
Interview times will be set at the club’s discretion but should occur when players are available and free of other club commitments. It is the club’s responsibility to deliver access to players during this time period and each player’s responsibility to cooperate. Media may make requests to speak with specific players, and clubs should make their best effort to accommodate these requests. At the discretion of the club, one-on-one and small group interviews with players are permitted, as long as applicable protocols are adhered to at all times.
If a team gives its players two days off after a game, meaning no team meetings or practice on Monday (in addition to the typical Tuesday off day), the team must arrange for some player access to local media on Monday. The purpose is to ensure player availability between Sunday and Wednesday for media that are reporting on your team every day.
The following is a summary of access requirements for Head Coaches, Assistant Coaches (coordinators/assistant head coaches, primary position coaches) and Players:
Head Coaches — In addition to holding a news conference after every game, head coaches must be available on a regular basis to the media that regularly cover the team. The head coach should be available to the local media at least three days during each practice week from training camp through the end of the season. The head coach must be available to local media the day after all games – including Thursday, Saturday, and Monday night games – either in person or remotely. For head coaches available to the media three days only, the availabilities may not be on three consecutive days (i.e., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and not again until post-game on Sunday) and the offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators must be available to the media on a day the head coach is not speaking. At the club’s option, the head coach may also be made available to the opposing team’s media each week.
Assistant Coaches — Through their communications department, clubs must provide regular and reasonable access to assistant coaches – coordinators/assistant head coaches and all primary position coaches – for media interviews that serve the best interests of the club and league. Clubs may not put assistant coaches off limits to the media and may not unreasonably withhold permission for coordinators or primary position coaches to speak to the media.
Coordinators — Offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators must be available to media that regularly cover the club at least once between Monday and Friday during every practice week of the regular and postseason for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, beginning with the week leading to Week 1 of the regular season. The scheduled availability of the offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinator must be communicated to media in advance each week. Media do not need to request weekly access to the coordinators. Availability must occur weekly between Monday and Friday.
If a club does not have a named offensive, defensive, or special teams coordinator, or whose head coach serves in that capacity, another position coach from the offensive or defensive staff (as applicable to the individual team situation) must fulfill this weekly obligation.
For clubs whose head coach is available to the media three times during the practice week, the coordinators must be available on a day the head coach is not speaking.
Assistant Head Coaches & Primary Position Coaches — Permission to interview assistant coaches about reasonable football issues throughout the year should not be denied.
Regular and reasonable access to assistant coaches – coordinators/assistant head coaches and all primary position coaches – will include at least two mandatory media availabilities during the club’s offseason program and bi-weekly media availabilities beginning in August through the conclusion of the club’s playing season (including the postseason, if applicable) for media that regularly cover the team (offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators will continue with their weekly in-season media availabilities as described above). The structure of these sessions is a club decision (i.e., availability on a single day or multiple days, news conference format in-person or remote, etc.) but all assistant coaches must be available during each of these time periods.
Please note that while all assistant coaches must be available at least twice during the offseason program and bi-weekly (every other week) beginning in August, it is not permissible to deny all other requests because of these mandatory availabilities.
Media access to assistant coaches on game day is a club decision, and any game day access to assistant coaches would be in addition to the mandatory access rules described above.
Players — Players must be available to the media following every game and regularly in person during the practice week as required under league rules and their contracts and as noted above. It is not permissible for any player or any group of players to boycott the media. Players with unusually heavy media demands must be available to the media that regularly cover their teams at least once during the practice week in addition to their required post-game media availability. This applies to a maximum of one or two players per team only. The minimum for such players does not include other required media obligations such as network production meetings and national media interviews arranged by the team.
4. PRACTICE ACCESS AND INFORMATION — Following the completion of Week 3 of the NFL preseason schedule and throughout the regular season and playoffs, daily practice (Monday through Friday) must be open to local media (those who regularly cover the team) for at least the first 30 minutes or until the start of “team” work. It is permissible to limit the videotaping or photographing of certain portions of practice. Starting the week prior to the opening of the regular season, clubs are required to designate on the NFL Intranet site and issue to local media the names of those players who missed any portion of 11-on-11 team or individual work on the specified days noted in the NFL Injury Report Policy.
Setting reasonable ground rules for coverage of practice – subject to the general access rules specified above and all applicable NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols – is the responsibility of the clubs. For practice sessions during training camp and minicamp that are open to the public, there should be a balance that addresses publicity for our teams, the role of media in serving our fans, and the goals and procedures set by individual teams. As such, we require that at least for practice sessions that are open to the public – and subject to guidelines set by clubs on the reporting of strategy – clubs must allow reporting (tweeting, blogging, etc.) of newsworthy events, such as VIP visitors to practice, exceptional catches, standout rookie performers, etc.
5. TRAINING CAMP ACCESS — Beginning the first day of preseason training camp through Thursday, August 26, all daily practices must be open in their entirety to local media (those who regularly cover the team). It is permissible to limit the videotaping or photographing of certain portions of training camp practices.
All players and the head coach must be available to the media for interviews on a regular basis during the entire preseason period. As in the regular season, one or two players with heavy media demands may be made available to local media once per practice week throughout training camp and the preseason (not including preseason game days). Clubs should make players available to media on the day the team reports to training camp, generally the day before the first practice session.
Assistant coaches – defined as coordinators/assistant head coaches and all primary position coaches – must be available at least twice per month (every other week) beginning in August and extending through the conclusion of the club’s playing season (including the postseason, if applicable) to media that regularly cover the team. Please note, in addition to at least two media availabilities in August, offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators must be available to media that regularly cover the club at least once between Monday and Friday during every practice week of the regular and postseason. Permission to interview assistant coaches at other times about reasonable football issues should not be denied.
6. MANDATORY VETERAN MINICAMP ACCESS — During a club’s mandatory veteran minicamp, all daily practices must be open in their entirety to local media (those who regularly cover the team). It is permissible to limit the videotaping or photographing of certain portions of minicamp practices. In addition, players and the head coach must be available to the media for interviews each day during minicamp. Media access to a rookie or voluntary minicamp is a club decision.
7. OFFSEASON PROGRAM (OTAs) — To enhance publicity during the offseason, clubs must open to the media at least one of every three Organized Team Activity (OTA) days. In addition, it is recommended that clubs open to the media the first OTA session of the year. The purpose of opening at least one of every three OTA days (not one-third of the total number of OTAs but one of every three) is for media to have at least one mandatory access day in each of the four weeks of Phase Three of a club’s offseason workouts as described in Article 21 of the CBA. This means that on these designated days teams must 1) make the head coach and players available to the media for interviews, and 2) open the OTA on-field session to the media in its entirety. It is permissible to limit the videotaping or photographing of certain portions of these sessions. These mandatory offseason media sessions are in addition to the veteran minicamps that must be open to the media in their entirety as described above. Any media access to Phase One or Phase Two of offseason workouts is a club decision.
8. PRE-DRAFT NEWS CONFERENCE — Every team is required to hold a pre-draft news conference with its head coach, and/or general manager, and/or player personnel director within two weeks of the draft. The purpose is to respond to fan interest in the draft and offseason squad development and promote a key league and club event.
9. MEDICAL INFORMATION — Clubs must ensure that all medical information issued to the media is credible, responsible, and specific in terms that are meaningful to teams, media, and fans. This includes the information in the weekly injury reports and information on injuries announced to the media during games.
As endorsed by the NFL Competition Committee, in-game injury announcements to the media must be specific to a body part, accurate, and updated as warranted, including any changes in the player’s status for the rest of the game if it changes from the initial report. In situations where players have been involved in major collisions in which a concussion is possible, there will be an announcement in the press box that the player is being evaluated for an injury and an update will be provided as soon as possible.
A player diagnosed with a concussion in a game will not be made available to the media after the game. The concussion-related medical exemption from mandatory media obligations extends until the player has been cleared by the Independent Neurological Consultant (INC) under the NFL Concussion Protocol.
Though the injury reporting policy does not begin until the week prior to the start of the regular-season, clubs are expected to update media on significant injuries that occur during the offseason program, training camp and preseason games.
As a reminder, please note that because the injury reporting policy affects the integrity of the game, compliance is governed by the annual certifications required under the Integrity of the Game initiative. These certifications are required from chief executives, club presidents, general managers, and head coaches. Club management, in consultation with its medical staff, is responsible for the accuracy and appropriateness of medical information distributed in response to public interest. Super Bowl teams are required to submit injury report information during the bye week between the Championship Games and Super Bowl.
10. ON-FIELD MEDIA COORDINATOR — Each team is obligated to provide for each game (home and away) an on-field media coordinator whose duties include helping the televising network and other media in and around the field. The media coordinator should be located near the bench area during games with direct communication to the team’s Communications Director in the press box.
11. DEPTH CHARTS — Every team must produce a credible weekly depth chart for the media beginning no later than the week of its first preseason game and updated weekly through the end of its season. The depth chart must include the 11 offensive positions and the 11 defensive positions a team considers to be in its base units, and it must list expected starters and backups at each of those positions. Listing players at each position on the depth chart in alphabetical order is prohibited.
Clubs should include members of the practice squad on the alphabetical and numerical rosters that are included on the game day flipcards.
12. EQUAL ACCESS — Under the equal-access principle of this policy, and subject to adherence to NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, all accredited media must be given access to the designated player and coach interview times during the practice week, following games, and during training camp and minicamp. When a club allows media to attend daily practice, all members of the media who regularly cover the team must be admitted. Barring individual members of the regularly accredited media from any of the above sessions for what is perceived as “unfair coverage”, or any similar reason is not permitted.
13. POST-SEASON REQUIREMENTS — The minimum standards for media access during the regular-season practice week will apply during the playoffs. Due to increased interest, however, it is recommended that clubs supplement their standard media availabilities.
Clubs that schedule off days for players during a playoff bye week are expected to make key players available to the media that week to serve the extensive public interest in the NFL playoffs.
Clubs are required to comply with the league office news conference schedule for playoff games. This obligation includes the responsibility to have available the head coach, starting quarterback and other key players as requested by the league office based on media and fan interest.
For the Conference Championship Games, the four participating teams are required to adhere to media requirements established by the league office for Wednesday through Sunday of Championship Game week. This will include media availabilities at least on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The head coach must be available on each of those days. The starting quarterback must be available on Wednesday and also available on either Thursday or Friday at a minimum.
For Super Bowl week, overall media arrangements differ in several respects from other playoff games. Those requirements will be communicated to the participating teams in advance.
14. SEASON-ENDING NEWS CONFERENCE/PLAYER AVAILABILITY — Every team is required to 1) make players available for interviews the day after the season ends and 2) hold a news conference during the week following the end of its season with its head coach, and/or chief executive, and/or club president, and/or general manager. The purpose is to serve fan interest in the conclusion of the team’s season.
15. RESPONSIBILITY OF CLUB OFFICIALS — Each club will assign the responsibility of administering the post-game and practice week media access policies to two appropriate members of its communications staff. One – or both – of these designated officials must be present during media availabilities following each game and during the practice week.
16. AVAILABILITIES WITH OPPOSING TEAM MEDIA — At the club’s option, the head coach and a key player may be available to the opposing team’s local media each week. While communications directors may take requests from the opposing team’s local media to make the head coach and/or a player available to them, the decision on conducting such availability is at the discretion of the club. Each club will make arrangements for other appropriate media interviews with its players and coaches upon reasonable request throughout the season.
17. TEAM MEETING ON MEDIA & PUBLIC/COMMUNITY RELATIONS — Each club is required to hold a team meeting during training camp on media and public/community relations. The club president or general manager, coaches and communications staff should attend. The required playbook section on player media responsibilities, the importance of good media and community relations, plus league and club policies should be discussed. Instructional materials provided by the league, including the “NFL Players and the Media” video, must be made available to players.
18. MEDIA TRAINING — Each club is required to conduct a media training session each year prior to the start of the regular season for all players and coaches. This can be done in one session or in separate sessions at the club’s option. In addition, the club communications staff must arrange for a separate media training meeting for rookies each year prior to the season. The league office will assist clubs in identifying professional media trainers that can conduct the sessions or advise clubs that prefer to have their own staff handle the sessions. These mandatory training sessions will be held in addition to the annual team training camp meeting at which the club public relations director reviews league and club policies on media relations, described above.
19. CLUB MEDIA & PUBLIC RELATIONS BROCHURE — Each club will produce for its coaches and players an annual brochure listing individual local media (with photos) and reviewing club policies on media and public/community relations.
20. MEDIA ACCESS PLAN — Each club must complete and return by Friday, September 3 a form provided by the league office on the club’s media access plan. The form will ask each club to provide details on a variety of media-related matters. Once the information has been received, it will be reviewed by the league office. To ensure clear understanding of these policies at multiple levels of an organization and responsibility for adherence to them, the signatures of the club president or general manager, head coach and PR director on the form will be required.
21. PRESS WILL CALL/PARKING — Each club will have a separate Press Will Call window or booth, preferably at or near the Press Entrance of your stadium. Clubs are encouraged to have credentials available at Press Will Call four hours prior to kickoff for preseason, regular-season and post-season games. Clubs will make their best effort to provide appropriate game-day parking accommodations to working members of the media, as well as including relevant maps and parking-related information on the back of parking passes.
22. PRESS BOX SEATING — Clubs will determine the number of individuals that have access to the press box. There is no requirement for physical distancing between media members. As per NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, all media with access to the press box must be vaccinated. Each club will exert its best effort to limit the number of club personnel in the press box during games.
23. VIOLATIONS – Violations of the above procedures will be considered conduct detrimental to the league and will be subject to disciplinary action by the commissioner.