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Here’s why NFL teams want players to get COVID-19 vaccine

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the NFL initiated protocols to help limit the spread of the virus.

For the most part, it worked. Each team played its regular 16-game schedule. The Super Bowl went off without a hitch. With that said, there were numerous instances of star players missing games after either contracting COVID-19 or coming in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. To an extent, it impacted competitive balance.

Heading into the 2021 NFL season, there was some hope that this wouldn’t be the case. Vaccines have become readily available to every American who wants one. The NFL has initiated different COVID protocols to take into account both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Unfortunately, it remains a major sticking point within the NFL world. That is to say, some star players pushing back against getting vaccinated. In turn, the league has implemented new policies that pretty much puts a mark on those who have not been stuck with the needle.

Mike Florio of NBC Sports outlined this just recently, raising some rather interesting points in the process. Primarily, he took a look at game day protocols and instances in which players would be scratched due to either a positive COVID-19 test or coming into contact with someone who has the virus.

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Unvaccinated players could hurt NFL teams on game day

former nfl mvp lamar jackson
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Unlike last season, players who are placed on the COVID-19 list won’t know their standing days ahead of a game. Rather, on-site PCR testing will be the name of the game. It also only applies to unvaccinated players.

Said players would be required to take the test no later than four hours prior to kickoff. If the test comes back positive, they’ll have sit out the game. Unvaccinated players who are deemed to be in close contact with said individual would also have to sit out. As for the player who tests positive, he’d likely be out for the next week, too. Again, vaccinated players are not subjected to these game-day test requirements.

There’s a lot of issues that can arise here. That’s primarily true when it comes to the quarterback position. Numerous star signal callers remain unvaccinated, including Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Cousins’ issue came up late last month when teammate Kellen Mond (also unvaccinated) tested positive for the virus. Minnesota’s starter was deemed to be in close contact with Mond, as was third-stringer Nate Stanley.

Now, imagine if this had happened on game day leading up to Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Under new NFL-mandated policies, the Vikings would likely have to forfeit said game. At the very least, they’d have to play without a true quarterback against Cincinnati.

We’re seeing somewhat of a different situation play out with the New England Patriots right now. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton is currently away from the team after breaking COVID-19 protocols. In his stead, rookie first-round pick Mac Jones has shown out during practice and could potentially earn the Patriots’ starting gig.

Meanwhile, New England’s brass is not happy about the Newton situation. How much of an issue is it for a team to have its potential top backup quarterback unvaccinated heading into the season? Some teams only keep two active signal callers on the roster. See the issue here?

NFL powers that be continue to speak out against the unvaccinated

nfl hall of famer: dallas cowboys' jerry jones
JUAN CARLO/THE STAR via Imagn Content Services, LLC

“Everyone has a right to make their own decisions regarding their health and their body. I believe in that completely—until your decision as to yourself impacts negatively many others. Then the common good takes over,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said recently.

“I’m arm-waving here, but that has everything to do with the way I look at our team, the Cowboys, or the way I look at our society. We have got to check ‘I’ at the door and go forward with ‘we’”.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians just recently indicated that his team would be subject to the very same protocols on road trips as they were last season.

“There’s league rules and then there’s my rules. We ain’t going anywhere. For us, life is not normal. We’re going to be under pretty much the same protocols as last year.”

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians (Aug. 25).

Jones talks about society and the greater good. Arians’ focus is more on not being at a competitive disadvantage due to those who are non-vaccinated.

Both want to win. Each figure has been in the NFL for a long time. Whether it’s a return to normalcy or making sure your team is in the best position to succeed, those in positions of power within the league are openly pro-vaccine.

That will likely continue to be the case once issues pop up among the unvaccinated on game day — putting certain teams at a major competitive disadvantage in the process.