NFL players divided on COVID-19 vaccine rules

Coronavirus Vaccine

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 15: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Buffalo Bills during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Bills 32-30. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Some National Football League players are pushing back against the league’s COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season.

Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley said last week he is not vaccinated and didn’t plan on changing that.

“I will be outside doing what I do,” he tweeted. “I’ll be out in public. If your (sic) scared of me then steer clear, or get vaccinated … I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living.

“I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken. I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way …I’ll play for free this year to live life how I’ve lived it from day one. If I’m forced into retirement, so be it.”

Beasley said a lot of players agree with him and but many are not established veterans. The 32-year-old who is entering his 10th season wants to represent those players, he tweeted.

The new policy applies to training camp and the preseason. It restricts unvaccinated players while allowing vaccinated players to return to near normalcy, which made Beasley think the union was not representing all the players.

Under the new policy, vaccinated players will also no longer be required to wear masks at the team’s facility or during team travel. They will have no travel restrictions, can use the sauna/steam room and weight room without capacity limits, and can interact with vaccinated friends and family during team travel.

Unvaccinated players will be required to tested for COVID-19 daily and must wears masks in team facilities and during travel. They will also not be allowed to use the sauna/steam rooms, are subject to weight room capacity limits, and may not leave the team hotel to eat or interact with anyone outside of the team traveling party during travel.

Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat also voiced his opposition to getting vaccinated this month after the team brought in a vaccine expert to encourage players to get their shots.

“I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID,” Sweat said a a virtual news conference. The vaccine is not a treatment for COVID-19, but it can prevent a person from dying or even developing symptoms if they get infected.

The biggest issue for Beasley is the difference between the protocols for those vaccinated and those not after high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

Unvaccinated players will be required to quarantine after high-risk exposure, while vaccinated players will not.

“It’s a choice – they’ve got to make a choice,” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said of his players. “We’re trying to stress the fact that you know if we can get to herd immunity [within the team], we’ll really be able to get out there and enjoy things.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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