The Buffalo Bills' coronavirus reality TV show took a serious turn on Tuesday when six players were sent home from practice after it was discovered they they had come in contact with a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
None of the players — wide receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis, linebackers Matt Milano and A.J. Klein and defensive tackles Vernon Butler and Star Lotulelei — tested positive but had to exit the premises anyway due to NFL protocols.
Because Milano and Klein had lesser contact with the staff member, they could be back as early as Wednesday. The others will have to spend five days from the time of their contact away from the team.
General manager Brandon Beane held a press conference Tuesday to address the situation and painted a grim picture of what his team must deal with over the next week and possibly all season.
"We don't have it figured out, we don't have it under control and we just have to deal with the cards that are dealt," he said.
It is unlikely any of the players who must stay away for five days have been vaccinated, because the league allows for players who test negative after coming in contact with positive personnel to keep practicing as long as they test negative each day.
Beasley has been the Bills' most outspoken player on the issue of the COVID-19 vaccines, which he refuses to get because of unfounded concerns over complications. Whenever he has taken to Twitter to voice his opinions, Davis has responded by Tweeting his approval.
Lotulelei's case is more puzzling. He actually opted out of last season because of concerns about the pandemic. Why he would refuse the vaccine wouldn't seem to make much sense.
At the very least, some important minds within the organization remain closed on the safety and/or effectiveness of the vaccines.
To this, Beane can only shrug his shoulders and bite his tongue after being sanctioned by the league and the NFLPA earlier this year for admitting he would consider cutting unvaccinated players to get his team over the 85% vaccination threshold required to operate with pre-pandemic freedoms.
He was asked how the potential for losing multiple players at one position during the season could affect his decisions on building the team and the practice squad.
"You do have to try and look at everything," Beane said. "It's hard, you know, we don't ... I'm not going to get boxed in to what I said in the spring. But yeah, it's a tough job. You know, we're trying to figure out, and to what I said earlier, we'll try and have as many answers as we can, if and when this does happen in the season. So that's probably the best I can answer it.
"... This is our new normal. It's not the normal we like, but it's the world we're in. We're not exempt from any of this, as we've said many times, and we're going to try to keep our building as safe as we can."
Keeping in mind that, in Beane's words, they don't have it figured out and they don't have it under control.