Pro football players never cease to amaze me.
According to Allen Sills, the National Football League’s chief medical officer, about 20 per cent of the league’s players have yet to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. A number have said they fear the highly effective vaccination despite it being approved by the FDA because they don’t know what’s in it.
Don’t know what’s in it? Have those guys ever eaten a hot dog? Or chicken fingers? Or a fish sandwich? If they know what’s in those things they must have X-ray vision. Yet into their mouth, arm and buttocks they pop all manner of stuff whose contents they know little or nothing about.
Do they ask what’s in toradol, the kidney destroying pain injection that became a staple around the NFL? We know they don’t ask what’s in the supplements they take because every time one of them tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs they say it was because they took a supplement “tainted” by unknown chemicals.
Here is a group of allegedly college-educated men fearful of being vaccinated to prevent them from getting a disease that has killed over 600,000 of their fellow citizens in fewer than 18 months. Yet they apparently aren’t fearful of playing a sport the head of their union says has a 100 percent injury rate. They aren’t afraid of participating in a sport that will give many of them permanent, incurable brain damage. They aren’t afraid of playing a sport that will likely shatter their knees and disable their shoulders, ankles, necks and backs. But they’re petrified of a needle that has proven to be highly effective in preventing deaths and serious hospitalizations from a killer virus?
What was that about allegedly college-educated, again?
Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Cole Beasley has been the most outspoken critic of vaccinations for Covid and insists he won’t do it. This has already led to a public Twitter dispute with teammate Jerry Hughes, a defensive end of some merit who favors team-wide vaccinations to avoid the possibility of the virus derailing the Bills’ considerably good chances of reaching the playoffs. If this keeps up, Covid will not only be a people killer; it will become a team killer.
Arizona Cardinals’ Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins said this week “being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to take part in the vaccine making me question my future in @NFL.” The only person putting him in that position is him. The guy has spent his career taking far more dangerous shots to the noggin than he’s facing taking this shot in the arm. Yet he sees the choice as potentially career ending. Maybe those shots to his noggin are adding up?
This week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a set of guidelines agreed to by the players' union that are quite draconian if an unvaccinated player infects his team, and it leads to a game having to be rescheduled or canceled. The team experiencing the outbreak would be held financially liable for the opposing team’s expenses. And if the game can’t be rescheduled, the infected team would forfeit. The player or players deemed to have caused the outbreak might lose their paychecks for the lost games, as well, a possibility that seems to have lawsuit written all over it.
Can the NFL simply mandate all players must be vaccinated, as they have already done with coaches and other non-playing personnel? That’s a legal question that remains unanswered. Some will argue a businessman can have whatever reasonable on-the-job demands he or she wants. If you want to play here, get the shot somewhere. But others are already saying it is an issue that must be collectively bargained and considering that the union is already disputing whether non-vaccinated players can be forced to wear colored wristbands alerting anyone on their team to their unvaccinated status, it is unlikely they would agree to an insistence on vaccinations for all players.
Unvaccinated players already face several restrictions, including daily testing, capacity limitations in the weight rooms and a requirement to travel to games on separate planes. If the rising Covid-19 infection numbers continue to expand, especially in states with low vaccination rates, how will that impact NFL teams and the sport itself?
It is too early to tell, but one thing remains baffling: Why are players willing to risk their brains to play pro football while refusing to use their brain to take a shot that reduces their chances of infection by one of the worst worldwide plagues since the Black Plague in the 1300s that killed an estimated 100-million people worldwide?
Beats me, but the situation makes one thing very clear - common sense is not very common in some corners of the NFL these days.