A growing number of NFL players, including Super Bowl champions and the highest-paid receiver in the league, are speaking out against the league’s position on COVID-19 vaccines.
DeAndre Hopkins — wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals — voiced his displeasure on Thursday to the NFL’s push to vaccinate players, saying he is “questioning his future.”
“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 said in a now-deleted tweet.
Hopkins remarks come after the NFL released a memo to teams on Thursday saying that a team experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players will forfeit the game.
“The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources,” NFL reporter Tom Pelissero posted on Twitter. “Massive implications.”
The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
Hopkins’ message on Twitter drew immediate reaction on social media, including from NFL all-pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“Some of y’all clearly didn’t get what I’m saying here lol.. the NFL is pressuring/ ‘influencing’ guys to get the vaccine,” Ramsey said on Twitter. “They are saying if there is an outbreak, the team will be penalized heavily. My point is no teammate of mine will feel that pressure from me because whether you are vaccinated or not, there is still a chance of getting covid. I thought my point was simple but I guess not lol. ”
“Just because my teammate(s) personally decide not to get the vaccine, I won’t think they are a bad teammate,” he added in a subsequent tweet.
Leonard Fournette, running back on the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has also appeared to speak out against the league, tweeting “Vaccine I can’t do it…”. He quickly deleted the post.
In June, the NFL released their protocols for training camps and the 2021 NFL preseason.
For players who have been fully vaccinated, nearly all restrictions have been relaxed. Masks and daily testing will no longer be required, travel restrictions have been lifted, they will be allowed to eat in the cafeteria with other vaccinated individuals, and no restrictions will be placed on social/media/marketing/sponsorship opportunities, among other things.
For players who have not received the vaccine or are yet to be fully vaccinated, life in the NFL will be vastly different.
COVID-19 testing will be required every day, masks must be worn when at the team facilities and while traveling, they may not use the sauna/steam room, leaving the team hotel to eat at restaurants is prohibited, and no social/media/marketing/sponsorship activities will be permitted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director has said that 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths are among unvaccinated.
Cole Beasley — wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills — made it clear that he disagreed with the NFL’s protocols.
“This is crazy,” Beasley wrote on Twitter in June. “Did we vote on this? I stay in the hotel. We still have meetings. We will all be together. Vaccinated players can go out the hotel and bring covid back in to where I am. So what does it matter if I stay in the hotel now? 100 percent immune with vaccination? No.”
“The players association is a joke. Call it something different. It’s not for the players. Everyone gives me the 98 percent of people who are vaccinated don’t get covid again. The odds of me getting in the NFL and playing for 10 years are lower than that and I’m here.”
Also in June, Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat stated that he did not intend to receive the vaccine.
“Obviously, they want everybody to be vaccinated to move more freely around the facility and with traveling and all that type of stuff. But everybody has their own beliefs, and they’re entitled to their own decision,” he said.
Editor’s Note: A previous headline incorrectly referred to the vaccine as mandatory. It has been amended.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]