While the NFL has not mandated vaccinations for players, it has heavily incentivized players to receive the shots. Even so, a player’s vaccination status isn’t supposed to play a factor in whether he makes a roster, though as we’ve seen a few higher-ups admit, it is hard not to take it into consideration. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer is the latest player to let that slip.
“Everyone was considered,” Meyer said on Tuesday, after roster cuts were finalized. “That was part of the [considerations such as] production, let’s start talking about this, and also is he vaccinated or not? Can I say that that was a decision maker? It was certainly in consideration.”
After Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane came under fire earlier this offseason for saying essentially the same thing, you’d figure that Meyer would know to avoid saying this out loud. At the same time, the concept is pretty obvious: if you have two fringe players battling for a roster spot, the vaccinated player—who is around seven times less likely to come down with COVID-19, and significantly less likely to suffer major health consequences from it—is probably a better bet than a similarly talented, unvaccinated player.
Today, the Jaguars addressed Meyer’s comments. The team’s PR wing says that it has not released anyone due to vaccination status, while acknowledging that “a player’s ability to help the Jaguars win” is the main factor in decisions. Read into that what you will.
— JaguarsPR (@JaguarsPR) September 1, 2021
After Meyer’s comments, the NFLPA announced that it had opened an investigation into the coach and franchise. He certainly opened himself up to scrutiny with his comments, even if he was likely acting the same way that every other team is given the ongoing issues with COVID-19 around the league.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will open the Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence eras on Sunday, Sept. 12 with a road game against their AFC South rival Houston Texans. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.