The Overtime Project (August 2, 2021)
COVID and the NFL
Hello again and welcome to August! It’s hard to believe that the summer is practically over already. As the summer ends and fall approaches, it is time to gear up for another season of Football.
Despite recent headlines in college football, today’s story will focus more on the NFL and their recent COVID protocols for the upcoming season. I previously wrote about COVID precautions for the NBA playoffs, however, the NFL has made news with not only their announcements of new protocols but the responses of some of its players.
Earlier in July, the NFL sent out a memo with specific guidelines on how they would move forward with the season with the complication of vaccinated and unvaccinated players. The memo can be read below:
Some key points to the memo are:
The league intends on playing all of the games this season without adding an extra week due to COVID contractions.
Vaccinated individuals who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to duty after two negative tests 24 hours apart. While unvaccinated individuals are still subject to a mandatory 10-day isolation period.
“If a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week scheduled due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary.” aka NO ONE GETS PAID.
Obviously, a memo like this with such strong language sends shockwaves through the league. The financial implications caused enough of startle in the league amongst owners and players. Brown quarterback, Baker Mayfield said in an interview when discussing why he chose to get vaccinated that being vaccinated is a competitive advantage for teams and players.
The Pittsburgh Steelers organization to identify those players who have not received the vaccine placed yellow wristbands on their players during training camp.
Another team, the Minnesota Vikings, fired an assistant coach over refusing to take the vaccine, and as recently as Monday had at least three players on their team test positive for COVID 19.
Perhaps the most vocal in the league about not taking the COVID vaccine, Buffalo Bills receiver, Cole Beasley, recently gave his reasons on why he does not feel comfortable in getting the vaccine:
Covid has provided many problems in this country and I by no means am an expert on these issues. To reiterate, I decided to get the vaccine based on a conscious decision on what I thought was best for myself and the people around me. With the threat of the delta variant, I certainly understand the rising concern about the safety of self and others. That being said, I still hold strong that you cannot legislate morality. What I mean by this is that I still don’t think that it is right to force someone to make a decision that they consciously feel uncomfortable with.
I understand the other side of the debate, that there could be consequences for those who decide not to take the vaccine. Playing in the NFL is very much a privilege. You do not have to play in the NFL if you don’t agree with the rules. However, I don’t think that that line of thinking is the best way forward. There should be some “middle ground” that can comfortably accommodate all of the conscious needs of all of the athletes.
At the end of the day, I think that it would be a horrible image for the NFL to lose players over attempting to bind their conscience. In a day and age where mental health is prioritized, surely there can be better solutions.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the NFL? Are their protocols fair? How do you think the NFL should move forward this season with covid protocols? Comment below and let me know!