The NFL is not mandating that its players receive the COVID vaccine, but they certainly are pushing it.
Last week, the consequences for an outbreak among unvaccinated players were released — a forfeit for the team experiencing an outbreak should a game be unable to be rescheduled — sending shock waves throughout the NFL community.
A handful of NFL players reacted — including DeAndre Hopkins and Leonard Fournette — and now the NFLPA president is taking aim at the league.
Cleveland Browns starting center JC Tretter, who is president of the NFLPA, is fully vaccinated, but he says the league has gone too far in allowing teams to force unvaccinated players into wearing wristbands.
“It’s just kind of a nonsensical idea,” Tretter said Thursday. “They say they need a differentiator between unvaccinated and vaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports leagues use any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated and not vaccinated.”
According to ESPN, “The league does mandate that teams must have some sort of system for identifying vaccinated and unvaccinated players since the rules for each group vary significantly in terms of physical distancing in the weight room and the use of showers and cold tubs, as well as entering the facility.”
Earlier in the week, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that the NFL and NFLPA are not on the same page when it comes to the wristbands.
“The NFL and the NFLPA are also at odds over the use of wristbands to identity unvaccinated players, per sources,” Schefter wrote on Tuesday. “The NFL is allowing clubs to to make players wear bright colored wristbands, which the NFLPA believes is unnecessary. Talks to continue.”
The NFL and the NFLPA are also at odds over the use of wristbands to identity unvaccinated players, per sources. The NFL is allowing clubs to to make players wear bright colored wristbands, which the NFLPA believes is unnecessary. Talks to continue. https://t.co/nGnFSCafI1
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 26, 2021
Tretter said that the NFL is attempting to “shame” players who choose to not receive the vaccine with the wristband policy.
“So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everybody on the field, and that shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary,” Tretter said. “We all know who’s vaccinated, who’s not and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on peoples’ helmets or wrists.”
The Browns are not requiring the wristbands, though a handful of NFL teams are.
“The Browns don’t need it,” Tretter said. “Again, we all know who is and who isn’t [vaccinated], so it’s not really needed. And I don’t know why some teams are doing it, and I think players should ask their teams why they’re doing it because, again, I think it’s unnecessary.”
“We’re not dividing the team over this issue,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said.
While players are not mandated to receive the vaccine, the protocols put in place for unvaccinated players are severe.
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 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, and leaving the team hotel to eat at restaurants is prohibited.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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