Of course, the jobs of the players might be on the line if they don’t get the vaccine, even if teams aren’t allowed to say so. Bills general manager Brandon Beane said last month that he would release players who refused to get vaccinated, prompting considerable backlash. of the league other the Union. A week ago, Buffalo Head Coach Sean McDermott
acknowledged his concern that more of his players had not yet received their shots.
Obviously, this is not a problem limited to Orchard Park. And while NFL players, like everyone else, have the right to make whatever decision they think is in their best interest, the realities of their employment make the subject inherently more complex for them.
ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano recently featured the differences in protocols for players who have been vaccinated versus those who have not. In particular, players without the vaccine are subject to daily testing and physical distancing requirements, and if they have been exposed to the virus, they must be quarantined.
Consider a situation like the one that recently developed at a Browns practice, in which several unvaccinated Cleveland players had to be sent home from the facility because they were high-risk close contacts. We saw several games in 2020 that featured undermanned or decimated clubs because several of their players were on the COVID-19 list, and teams will certainly want to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen again in 2021.
Stars and other top players won’t be in danger of being eliminated, but players on the fringes of a roster could be if they don’t get the vaccine. After all, if a roster decision comes down to a vaccinated versus an unvaccinated player, a team is likely to pick the player who doesn’t always risk wasting time. Officially, a player cannot be cut for his vaccination decision, but unofficially, it appears that it will happen, and it could be difficult for the NFLPA to win a complaint on behalf of that player.
Volin says the league and union continue to negotiate the threshold at which COVID protocols can be completely removed, and that a potential number is 85%. In other words, if 85% of the players on a team are fully vaccinated, that team would no longer have to worry about protocols.