The reality in the National Football League is hitting players right in the face as many of them still refuse to get vaccinated. Multiple teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Bucs, have been using brightly-colored wristbands to identify players that have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We did not agree to them,” NFL Players Association president and Browns center JC Tretter wrote Monday on the union’s website about the wristbands, adding the NFLPA feels they are “unnecessary.”
In a controversial memo released last week, the NFL did not provide specific guidance as to how clubs should identify vaccinated and unvaccinated players at practice and in their facilities, deferring that decision to individual teams.
“If a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule due to a COVID outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary,” the memo stated.
Commissioner Roger Goodell informed each of the league’s 32 clubs that teams that experience a Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players or staff would be forced to forfeit any game that can’t be rescheduled.
Shortly after it was released, All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals tweeted: “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.” A few minutes later, Hopkins deleted the initial tweet and wrote, “Freedom?”
Just today, 4 players and 13 staffers have tested positive for Covid-19—despite being vaccinated.
Half of the league’s 14 teams have at least 85% of players vaccinated.