Did NFL football players get the covid-19 vaccine for the preseason?
In a sport which is often described as a ‘real man’s game’ questions have been raised about the uptake in covid-19 vaccination rates by NFL players.
The economic and social effects of the covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly be a talking point for years to come. Whether we are speaking about the toll on human life, the decimation of varying industries or the increasingly heated debate regarding vaccines, it’s safe to say life has changed for all and forever. Yet it’s the latter point which perhaps brings some reason for hope and in an unlikely place as well, the NFL.
How have NFL teams reacted to the vaccine push?
In a sport which is often described as a ‘real man’s game’ it has been encouraging and motivational at the same time to see that NFL players haven’t bought into the macho image often associated with the sport, but, have instead overwhelmingly decided to receive their covid-19 vaccinations ahead of the 2021 preseason. In fact with most training camps around the league having now been in session for at least 2 weeks, many players around the NFL have already been administered at least one covid-19 vaccination shot. Further confirmation has come from NFL PR, who have stated that the total number of players in the league vaccinated currently stands at 90 percent.
How do the numbers add up?
According to the league, as of July 27th the total number of players in the entire league who have been vaccinated stands at 83.6%. With regards to the individual teams, numbers have steadily increased over the last week which would suggest that more and more players are showing up to camps and requesting the vaccine. The league also stated that nearly 90% of players had received at least one vaccine dose and that 19 of the 32 teams had more than 90%of their players vaccinated. It’s interesting to note that those figures are actually higher than the national average at present as the country battles with the new delta variant.
Enjoyed this chance to have a nuanced conversation about the NFL's (very successful) COVID-19 vaccination efforts. https://t.co/fnSf29CKe8— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 4, 2021
On the whole the last 2 weeks have been extremely progressive with 27 teams going above 85% of their roster vaccinated. That increase was further continued this week with 10 teams surpassing 90%. This of course is extremely positive as the NFL prepares to begin the regular season in September at a moment when the Delta variant is making its way through the general population. Teams have understandably been asked by the league to abide by certain restrictions such as reduced attendance and player related sanctions. The latter of course has not gone down well.
Has it all been fun and games?
Though the overall vaccination rate of the league is impressive the small minority of unvaccinated players have actually been quite forceful in their critique which in turn has only served to complicate team planning while further fanning the flames of discord between those who have received the vaccine and those who have not.
In response to this the NFL has implemented a series of rules and regulations with the intention ‘convincing’ players to take the jab. The foremost of these being the idea that should a team have an outbreak of covid-19 caused by an unvaccinated player or staff member, which in turn results in a game being rescheduled, the team forfeits the game. Further to that, players on both sides will be required to forfeit their weekly salary. In addition to this the league has also stated that it will fine any unvaccinated player $14,000 should they violate their covid-19 protocols. This has not been well received with some players even taking to social media to express their displeasure.
Among the higher profile players who have done so to date, there has been Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, New England Patriots defensive end, Matthew Judon and former quarterback Derek Anderson.
“As a whole y’all are lemmings. Laughable some of the comments. Sorry y’all can’t think for ur self. Check back in 2 years and let me know how ur body is doing after that vax. 99% survival rate without. I was avg get it. Played 14 years while most couldn’t make jv. Thx,” posted Derek Anderson on his twitter account on July 22nd .
As a whole y’all are lemmings. Laughable some of the comments. Sorry y’all can’t think for ur self. Check back in 2 years and let me know how ur body is doing after that vax. 99% survival rate without. I was avg get it. Played 14 years while most couldn’t make jv. Thx— Derek Anderson (@DAnderson314) July 22, 2021
Anderson doubled down on his position with second tweet, “This is total bullshit @nfl. So if a vaccinated player contracts which they will, no consequences? That’s ridiculous,” Anderson wrote in his Twitter thread. “Forcing guys to get a emergency use vax that’s unproven is bullshit. Let them make their own decisions. Would retire tomorrow if I was still playing.”
Then there were the words of DeAndre Hopkins – a three time All Pro-team selectee – in a tweet that was later deleted.
“Being put 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,” Hopkins said.
Leaving it all on the field
Even though the debate rages on, one thing remains clear which is that the league will not budge, viewing regulations and sanctions as the only way to adequately start and maintain the season. Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith offered an endorsement of that position stating on Twitter that players are overreacting to the new mandate.
“Why is everyone tripping over the NFL memo? It doesn’t force you to get vaccinated. It just says if you want to be the reason why things are worse, your team will pay, there is a difference.”
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