Tension is mounting in the NFL over COVID-19 vaccines, with a vocal minority of players and coaches criticizing league-enforced rules that aim to increase the vaccination rate for players and team personnel.
The NFL actually has a high vaccination rate, according to statistics released by the league.
He said last week that nearly 90 percent of players had received at least one dose of vaccine and that 19 teams had more than 90 percent of their players vaccinated.
Those numbers are higher than rates for the nation as a whole, which is battling the accelerated delta variant, a highly contagious form of the virus that has led to an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
However, the number of unvaccinated players complicates the plans of various teams and fuels irritation between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Delta’s prominence comes at a dangerous time for the NFL, which is gearing up to open the regular season in September. Teams had to cut attendance last season, but plan to open with full stadiums in the fall for a new 17-game season.
Vaccines provide protection against the delta variant, and taking a vaccine makes it much less likely that one will become seriously ill, be hospitalized, or die from the delta variant.
The NFL has instituted rules designed to entice players to get vaccinated, some of which have sparked a backlash.
In particular, if a team has a COVID-19 outbreak caused by unvaccinated players or staff, and the game needs to be rescheduled, the team with the outbreak will lose the game. Players on both teams will have to lose their weekly salary if a game is lost due to an outbreak.
The NFL has also relaxed certain restrictions on vaccinated players attending training camp. Vaccinated players don’t have to be screened as much as unvaccinated players or staff, and they don’t have to go through severe contract tracking quarantines.
The league also shared that they will penalize unvaccinated players more than $ 14,000 if they violate their COVID-19 protocols. according to an ESPN report.
These rules have not been universally accepted.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, New England Patriots defensive end Matthew Judon, and former quarterback Derek Anderson are among the most high-profile people to express their discontent.
Anderson focused on how vaccinated players who contract the virus will not be punished, while an unvaccinated player will.
In general, you are all lemmings. Laughs some of the comments. Sorry, you can’t think for yourself. Come back in 2 years and let me know how your body is after that shot. 99% survival rate without. I was about to get it. He played 14 years while most couldn’t jv. Thanks
– Derek Anderson (@ DAnderson314) July 22, 2021
“This is total shit @nfl. So if a vaccinated player hires what he will do, there will be no consequences? That’s ridiculous, ”Anderson wrote on his Twitter thread. “Forcing guys to get an emergency use vax that is untested is silly. Let them make their own decisions. I would retire tomorrow if I was still playing. “
In a now deleted tweet, Hopkins, who was selected for three All-Pro teams, said the new term has him questioning his future in the league.
“Being in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to participate in the vaccine makes me question my future at @Nfl,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins followed the deleted tweet with a much shorter and daring one.
– Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) July 22, 2021
A small minority of players and staff who do not want to be vaccinated have rejected the rules.
It was first reported by ESPN. that assistant coach Rick Dennison left his position as offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings after refusing to get vaccinated.
According to the league’s memorandum, it is mandatory that all level 1 team personnel (coaches, head office members, team managers, and scouts) are vaccinated.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said last week that Dennison will remain on the team as a senior offensive adviser after both parties agreed to let him remain on the team for the 2021 season, according to ESPN.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has become the most well-known opponent of vaccines in the NFL.
At a press conference last week, He said it is “pro-abortion” and that more information should come out so that players know more about how to get vaccinated.
While saying that he will not comment on his anti-vaccination stance, Beasley released a rap song called “Heavy 1s”, yelling the league vaccination with this letter “it’s no vaccine for me, just evacuation, except homie.”
“To shut your mouth you are going to have to kill me. If freedom of speech and freedom of choice are lost, then there will be no freedom at all, ”Beasley sang.
Additionally, notable star quarterbacks, including Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, have revealed whether they received their vaccine, saying it violates their HIPAA rights.
Cousins, who this week was placed on his team’s COVID-19 / Reserve list, said Thursday that he would rather follow his team’s COVID-19 protocol than get the vaccine, saying he would surround himself with Plexiglas to stop the spread.
Cousins said he has considered surrounding himself in Plexiglas in the quarterbacks room. He was asked why he would do his best when a vaccine would be much more effective and efficient. He said the decision is personal and private.
– Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 5, 2021
The NFL has not apologized for its aggressive efforts to entice people to get vaccinated, sending the signal that it believes vaccines are important to running the season successfully.
In 2020, the NFL struggled to complete its regular season games during the pandemic. This led league officials to postpone games for later dates due to certain clubs having COVID-19 outbreaks that caused clubs to close their facilities in the process.
The Tennessee Titans had 24 players on their roster who missed multiple contests due to positive testing and close contact.
In November, the Denver Broncos had to start rookie wide receiver Kendall Hinton as the emergency quarterback in their competition against the New Orleans Saints as all three quarterbacks were exposed to the virus and quarantined. ESPN reported.
Some high-profile figures in the league have also expressed frustration over the unvaccinated, reflecting the frustration that has been evident in the world at large.
Washington soccer head coach Ron Rivera said during a news conference last week that he is “beyond frustrated” with his team’s low vaccination rates.
Washington had seven players on your COVID-19 / Reserve roster that includes offensive guard Brandon Scherff, wide receiver Curtis Samuel and defensive end Matt Ioannidis.
Rivera, who was diagnosed with and survived squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer, is immunosuppressed, predisposing him to severe coronavirus disease.
“Yes, I am, I am really frustrated. I’m beyond frustrated, ”Rivera said. “Part of it is, and the reason I came in with a mask is, you know, I’m immunocompromised. So with this new variant, who knows? “
Since expressing its frustrations, Washington has seen its team’s vaccination rate rise, surpassing the league’s threshold of 85 percent on Wednesday. ESPN Washington Football Team beat reporter John Keim reported.
Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith was one of the few players who had different opinions on the recent vaccine debate, stating that players are overreacting to the new memo.
“Why does everyone stumble over the NFL memo? It does not force you to get vaccinated. It just says that if you want to be the reason things get worse, your team will pay. ” Smith wrote on Twitter. “There is a difference.”