NFL

NFL Ruling On Vaccines No Shot In The Arm For Unprotected Players

The NFL ruling that if a team is unable to fulfil a fixture due to a Covid outbreak, then the team will forfeit the game has certainly caused consternation in the NFL.

A number of players, many of them who have admitted that they are not intending to get a vaccine, have spoken out on Twitter angrily, although many have since deleted their original Tweets.

Arguably the most high profile critic was Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Deleted Tweet

In a now deleted Tweet, Hopkins wrote:

“Never thought I would say this, but being in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @nfl.”

A short time after posting, he deleted the Tweet, but then tweeted “Freedom?” thereafter.

Then perhaps after viewing the storm his comments had made, Hopkins did move to reassure fans by Tweeting once again:

“Btw I got about 9 more years in me, y’all have a good day.”

Other NFL Stars Comments

A number of other stars in the NFL have had their say on social media about the ruling.

Quarterbacks coach Quincy Avery tweeted:

“Def a bad teammate if you don’t get the vax now…”

To which Jalen Ramsey, the Los Angeles Rams cornerback countered:

“I know 2 people right now who got the vaccine but are Covid positive. I’m just saying. I wouldn’t look at a teammate as bad if he don’t get the vax, no pressure from #5”

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott also echoed Ramsey’s more sympathetic tones stating.

“I got the vaccine just because I wanted to put myself in the best situation to be out there for my team week in and week out. But I mean, not everyone feels that strongly or maybe other people still have their view of vaccines. You can’t force someone to do something that they don’t want to do to their body.”

Other stars such as New England Patriots Matt Judon, Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette and Las Vegas Raiders running back Jalen Richard have all Tweeted their anger at the stance the NFL have taken.

Teams Encouraging Players To Get Vaccinated

While a delicate situation, there is no doubt that NFL owners are hoping as many members of their teams and staff will get vaccinated. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay stated on Thursday that over half his roster is vaccinated and that his franchise is ‘hopefully headed towards 100%’.

A week ago, ESPN reported that two teams remained under 50% in terms of players and staff being vaccinated, one of them being Indianapolis, the other Washington.

Four teams, Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver were reported as having the highest vaccination rate and 10 teams reported that around 85% of their players and staff had been vaccinated.

Consternation At Rules

Part of the problem is that the NFLPA and NFL have agreed new rules for players this season based on whether they are vaccinated or not. Those players fully vaccinated will have far less restrictions on them than those unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated players are required to maintain a daily testing regime, wear masks and maintain social distancing. Perhaps more controversially, they won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, or participate in media, marketing or other social activities when travelling.

They also are forbidden from using the sauna or steam room and cannot leave the team hotel or interact with people outside their team bubble.

Vaccinated players will not have these restrictions placed upon them.

Outcasts?

By setting up an effective social class system in the NFL based on whether players are vaccinated or not, is a controversial move, especially when vaccines are not mandatory.

However, what is more interesting is looking at the reasons why a significant percentage of players in the NFL, and the wider American public at large, do not want to take the vaccine.

That is a whole different article in itself, but if we hit the end of season and one or more teams miss out on the post-season due to a game that they lost due to the Covid-19 rules implemented in the NFL this season, there could well be a huge uproar and the worrying potential for legal action.

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