Ron Rivera entered the weekend not happy with his Washington Football Team. And now comes Sunday news that yet another standout, D-lineman Daron Payne, has been added to the COVID-19/Reserve list - the seventh player the team has added in the last five days.
At the same time, Payne says via Twitter, that he is COVID-free.
We'll assume Rivera's unhappiness has increased.
Earlier this week, Rivera’s COVID-vaccine-related approach was based on empathy as he noted his bout with cancer makes him vulnerable. But now he’s trying a more forceful approach - one with a warning: their decisions might impact eligibility, wins and game checks.
"Those guys (newly on the WFT COVID list) would not be eligible if there was a game this weekend," Rivera said after Saturday's training camp practice. “So to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are, and I hope it helps.”
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Again, the WFT now has seven players on the list, including four standouts: Brandon Scherff, Curtis Samuel, Matt Ioannidis and now Payne.
Washington reportedly ranks next to last among NFL teams in terms of vaccination rate, having just climbed above 70 percent of players having at least one shot. Rivera has become "beyond frustrated" with his stubborn team.
“It's a matter of these guys being educated and understanding, because it's fair when you sit down and talk to these guys and listen to them and listen to their true concerns." he said. "Some guys just don't know, and I've gotten a sense that there are a few who are dug in so hard, so much that they're not going to back down. That's the part to me that's concerning because I care about all these guys. You do worry that somebody might catch it and go home and pass it on to a family member.”
Rivera acknowledges that getting vaccinated remains a personal choice, laced with team implications.
"It's a personal thing,” he said, “but we can sway them, hopefully."