With the start of the 2021-2022 NFL season right around the corner, both fans and players are looking forward to the league's return. Despite the excitement of the upcoming season, some players still remain unvaccinated, leaving many fans and coaches with many questions and concerns.
Due to COVID-19, most of last season was played with limited fan attendance and many games were played with no fans at all; however, this year, commissioner Roger Goodell feels comfortable filling the stadiums with fans once again. Part of this contentment comes from the fact that the vaccines are now readily available for both players and fans. As of Aug. 26, the NFL player vaccination rate was at 93% and as of Sept. 2, two NFL teams are 100% vaccinated: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. This brings about the question of why there are still some players who are unvaccinated while the majority of the league is getting the vaccine.
Some players such as Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley have spoken out against the vaccine on social media. Although he did not exactly provide a reason why he would not get vaccinated, he made it clear that he was not planning on it. Beasley’s stance on the vaccine even led to him arguing on Twitter with fellow teammate Jerry Hughes Jr., who was advocating for the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Similar to Cole Beasley, Kirk Cousins and many other players on the Minnesota Vikings have been unwilling to get vaccinated. As of Aug. 3rd, the Vikings had the lowest vaccination rate in the entire NFL. The situation was so bad that the team even had and epidemiologist come in to try and educate players on the benefits of receiving the vaccine.
Not only does the vaccine provide health and safety benefits for the players, it also helps win games. The league has very strict protocols for unvaccinated players, which could lead to many players missing a significant amount of training time and even games. Players do not even actually need to contract COVID-19; simply being exposed to someone with the virus is enough for the NFL to require unvaccinated players to be sidelined for a period of time.
As many players and staff are idols to their fans, their choices influence many other people. The decision of whether or not to get vaccinated has more implications than just football, which is why it is so important that the NFL continues to push players and staff to receive the vaccine.
With both the proven benefits of the vaccine, along with the problems caused by being unvaccinated, it is puzzling why some players still refuse to receive the vaccine. Fellow teammates and fans of such players can only hope that said players are able to avoid any COVID-19 issues throughout the season.
This is the opinion of Ben Barrett, a senior journalism major from Brooklyn, New York. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.