Ron Rivera did not hold back when he shared his feelings about the COVID-19 vaccination numbers among the players on the Washington Football Team. He said on Tuesday he feels "beyond frustrated."
"I think it's frustrating. Especially in the fact that last year we were the No. 1 team against COVID," Rivera said. "Our players took the challenge of staying inside the bubble, doing the things the right way and for the most part, you know we only had two situations. Both of them were guys who weren't on the active 53, so it turned out to be a positive for us, as far as being COVID free. And now for whatever reason we have some reluctance to do that, to get the vaccine."
Among players, nearly half the league has reached a 90% vaccination rate. Rivera brought in a vaccination expert earlier this month to speak with his players about the choice, and at the time, the club wasn't at 50%. As of Tuesday, the head coach said the club is only over 50%.
Just last week, NFL informed the teams it would enforce forfeits if an outbreak occurred among unvaccinated players and the game could not be rescheduled. Additionally, the league told ESPN's Jenna Laine that it will fine unvaccinated players $14,650 any time they violate COVID-19 procedures this season.
The entire WFT coaching staff is vaccinated, according to the NFL Network; however, Rivera continues to wear a mask around unvaccinated people because he is immune deficient after battling squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer, last year. He completed seven weeks of treatments in late October, one day after his team beat the Cowboys. And as of Jan. 28, the head coach is cancer-free.
"I hope we can get to these guys, get them to understand really it's not just for them, but it's for the people around them," Rivera said Tuesday. "And that's the thing that I think hopefully will get their attention is it's not just about them, but the folks around them. ... It is everybody's choice, everybody's decision, but you just hope they all fall in line and understand what's at stake. I'm truly frustrated, I'm beyond frustrated."
Some players and coaches have been hesitant about getting vaccinated. Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley shared on Twitter that he "may die of covid, but I'd rather die actually living." Mark Cuban offered to buy Beasley's wife Pfizer stock if the wide receiver got vaccinated and promoted the vaccine on his social media accounts.
Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said in a since-deleted tweet that the NFL's new policies regarding COVID-19 outbreaks and vaccination are making him "question" his future in the league.
"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 wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
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