After the NFL handed down an ultimatum to franchises about unvaccinated players on Thursday, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins made a shocking declaration. When the league shared that teams may have to forfeit games this season if they can’t play because of a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the five-time All-Pro claimed to be questioning his future in football.
“Never thought I would say this, but 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 tweeted.
Hopkins deleted the message soon after it was posted, but not before he created a firestorm on social media. Fans and media members frantically tried to decipher if he was seriously considering leaving the NFL.
The Cardinals wideout broke his brief silence soon after deleting his first tweet with a one word message. Hopkins simply wrote “Freedom?” in his latest post.
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) July 22, 2021
It’s worth noting that the NFL isn’t requiring players to get a COVID-19 vaccine one way or another. The Player’s Association made sure that each individual was given the right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.
Because that’s the case, the league isn’t infringing on any freedoms by implementing the latest rule about forfeitures caused by virus outbreaks among unvaccinated players. The NFL maintained health and safety protocols throughout the 2020 season and is updating those measures appropriately headed into a new year. With COVID-19 vaccines now widely available in the United States, the league office has made clear that it would like its players to receive one if they’re able.
It’s hard to believe that Hopkins would actually go through with leaving football just because he chooses to not get a vaccine. However, his series of tweets on Thursday will definitely cause some confusion just over a month before the start of the regular season.
Needless to say, this is a situation that bears watching in the coming days.