As the Washington Football Team begins training camp, one of the biggest storylines to follow will be the NFL's new COVID-19 vaccine policy. According to a league memo, practices will be under heavy surveillance until 85 percent of players on the roster are fully vaccinated.
This has caused tension in more ways than one. Both sides have created arguments, and players have also criticized the league on what to make of the new policies set in place.
Washington Football Team star defensive end Chase Young joined the chorus of commenters on the first day of training camp, without giving too much away.
"I feel like it's a personal choice," Young told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "I don't down a guy if he gets it or if he doesn't get it. I feel like it's just a personal choice, like every other vaccine."
Like many players around the league, Young did not clarify whether or not he's gotten the vaccine. However, it was reported Tuesday that Washington has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the league at just below 60 percent.
WFT coach Ron Rivera told reporters Tuesday that he was "beyond frustrated" at the numbers as training camp begins. Part of those frustration could stem from being immunodeficient following his battle with cancer last season.
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"With the new variant, who knows?" Rivera said of the Delta variant. "When I'm in a group and the group's not vaccinated or there's a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons because nobody really knows. I have to do that. And I just wish and I hope that our guys can understand that."
The NFL said 85% of its players are vaccinated (at least one shot) and 14 clubs are over 90%. Washington, meanwhile placed swing tackle Cornelius Lucas on the COVID-19/reserve prior to the start of camp.
"I tell all the guys, I say, 'If you get it, you get it," Young said. "If you don't, you don't, you know, Coach Rivera is not going to be mad at you. Any of the captains, we're not going to be mad. So if you get it, you get it. If you don't, you don't."
Part of the reason why coaches could be asking players to enhance the vaccine rate is due to the new format for games this fall. Should a team be unable to play due to an outbreak of COVID-19, they would be forced for cancel the game.
It also would lead to a forfeit for the team forced to cancel, resulting in a loss that could factor into playoff implications.
"It's wild what's going on," Young said. "You can't complain, it is what it is. You just got to take it for what it is and keep it moving."
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