Washington pass running back Montez Sweat said Wednesday that he does not support the team’s attempt to persuade players to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Sweat said that “he probably won’t get vaccinated until he has more data and that sort of thing, but I’m not a fan of that.”
When asked what was causing his hesitation, the 24-year-old said: “I have not contracted COVID yet. I don’t see myself treating COVID until I actually have COVID.”
Coach Ron Rivera said his staff and team employees were fully vaccinated, compared to nearly half of the players.
“Little by little we are vaccinating more and more players,” Rivera said. “It’s a choice. They have a choice to make. We are trying to emphasize the fact that if we can achieve herd immunity, we can really go out and enjoy things, so hopefully that will happen.”
Washington brought in Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett to speak with the players Tuesday night about vaccines. Rivera said it was a good forum to discuss concerns.
“We are trying to collect as much information as possible and allow players to get as much information as possible so that they can choose and make a decision,” Rivera said. “The important thing is that we must be able to provide the opportunity for these guys to understand. There are a lot of messages that come out of Twitter and some are good, some are bad.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday that the delta virus variant first detected in India is becoming more prevalent in the US. He said vaccines have proven to be less effective. against that variant when people are not fully immunized, and the evidence points to it being more transmissible and more deadly.
Sweat said the team wants members to get vaccinated to remove travel and facility restrictions, adding, “but everyone has their own beliefs and has the right to make their own decisions.”
Washington is in the middle of a mandatory minicamp, after offseason voluntary workouts in which Sweat did not participate.
Last month, the NFL removed a mask mandate for fully vaccinated players and staff. Commissioner Roger Goodell said May 26 that 30 of the league’s 32 teams had a vaccination rate greater than 90% for Level 1 and Level 2 staff members.
“We believe that players and our staff are safer if they are vaccinated,” Goodell said. “I think that’s true throughout our country and around the world.”
Work is ongoing between the players.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he continues to have conversations with players who have not yet received the vaccine. Carroll would like everyone to be vaccinated before the start of training camp.
In late May, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott expressed concern that his team could fall behind in easing virus protocol restrictions for the start of camp due to concerns about the vaccine. McDermott did not say at the time what percentage of players had been partially or fully vaccinated.
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid said last week that the Chiefs’ vaccination numbers are “going up a lot compared to other teams.” Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio reported that about 70 players had either been fully vaccinated or told they would soon be vaccinated.