Debate over the COVID-19 vaccine has spilled over into the NFL this offseason. Just over half of the league’s players have opted to get a vaccine, leaving many worried about the prospects of the 2021 campaign.
The NFLPA negotiated with the NFL to make vaccines optional for players and protect that individual choice. However, with low vaccination rates, the union decided to send a letter to players around the league, affirming why some decisions were made and why certain protocols in place.
One of the first points the NFLPA made in the release was that getting a COVID-19 vaccine was strictly optional. The union fought hard to earn this designation, so wanted to make clear that while recommended, getting a vaccine isn’t mandatory.
The NFLPA has protected every player’s right to choose whether or not they want to take the vaccine.
This is unlike NFL coaches and other personnel who are mandated to get it.
You have an individual choice. Our union has to both protect that choice and also protect the overall player community and your families, given the virus remains contagious and dangerous.
No club official, coach or anyone from management should be pressuring you into getting a vaccine and if they are, we need to know.
Some players have had no problem with each individual’s choice to get or not get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, a few have lamented the league’s decision to uphold last year’s health and safety protocols for unvaccinated players. Most notably, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley tweeted out a tirade last week, complaining about the restrictions placed on him as someone who chose to not get a vaccine.
The letter from the NFLPA directly addressed the gripes of such individuals by reminding those upset with the protocols that those measures are in place to protect all players and their families.
The protocols for unvaccinated players – which allowed for a complete NFL season with all players getting paid in full last year – are the best chance we have to get through this upcoming season without getting players sick and or/missing time.
These are not only in place to protect you, but your teammates and families as well.
As a reminder we have posted vaccine FAQ’s on our website with detailed information from our Medical Director, Dr. Thom Mayer, and our COVID-19 taskforce.
Here’s a look at the full letter, courtesy of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
Over half of players on NFL rosters have had at least one shot, but the pace among players remains behind staff and the general population. Here’s the link to “COVID Vaccine FAQs” with answers from the NFLPA task force and medical director Dr. Thom Mayer. https://t.co/5bA7Jjavpf
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 24, 2021
The NFL and NFLPA have done a remarkable job at presenting a unified front throughout the COVID-19 pandemic dating well back into last year. All 32 teams were able to play 16 regular season games in 2020, a feat that looked nearly impossible ahead of the campaign.
Clearly, the NFL has followed medical advice well, so continuing to do so is undoubtedly the right move going forward. Hopefully, more players will fall in line and either get the vaccine, or adhere to the league’s protocols so that the 2021 season can proceed safely.