One year removed from first season disrupted by COVID-19, NFL still faces challenges due to virus
The NFL season started off with a bang last Thursday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers edging the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 in what could go down as one of the best games of the year once the season is over. And after the strange 2020 season, which saw mostly empty stadiums and games postponed and rescheduled all season, it was nice to see a big game in front of a sold-out crowd again – although I would have Preferred that most of these Buccs fans get vaccinated first.
But with COVID-19 still present and the Delta variant posing even greater risks than the original strain of the virus, it begs the question: How should the NFL handle COVID-19 this season?
Clearly, the NFL is encouraging its players to get vaccinated and has put stricter rules in place this year to incentivize that, like losing games if a team outbreak doesn’t allow them to play, players in two teams will not be paid if a match is canceled. , and a 10-day isolation period for unvaccinated players who are exposed to the virus, compared to only two negative tests in 24 hours for vaccinated players.
The NFL was even pushing for mandatory vaccinations among players, but failed to gain approval from the NFL Players Association.
However, despite the stricter team outbreak rules this year, there are still players willing to put their team’s success and the health of their teammates on the line to stand their ground on the vaccine issue. I can’t say I’m surprised, because we’ve seen the same thing here in Canada, where the small minority of anti-vaxxers always seem to speak the loudest.
For God’s sake, Albertans are giving up their NHL season tickets and having jersey burning parties because the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers announced that fans must be vaccinated to attend games. matches. This seems excessive.
People, including professional athletes, are passionate about this topic, but don’t seem willing to acknowledge that the situation is not the same as the one we found ourselves in last year. This old belief that young, healthy individuals will do well if they contract the virus is no longer necessarily the case with the Delta variant.
Take 27-year-old Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins for example. He caught the Delta variant and reportedly said there were times he wasn’t safe to leave the hospital.
He’s a young, physically fit athlete saying these things. It’s frightening. And you’d think that would be enough to convince players to get vaccinated, if not to avoid this scenario themselves, then at least to avoid putting a friend and teammate in the same situation.
But the Washington Football Team is proving that even the possibility of killing someone isn’t a good enough reason for some people to get vaccinated. The team’s head coach, Ron Rivera, is immunocompromised due to a diagnosis of a rare form of cancer. And even if he is doubly vaccinated, it’s unclear what could happen if he catches the virus. And his team is still one of the least vaccinated teams in the league.
Or take Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who has been among the most vocal NFL players against the vaccine. In a statement he made a few months ago, Beasley said, “I can die from COVID, but I’d rather die while living,” as if getting vaccinated would take away his ability to live, when in reality , the opposite is more true. likely.
“I have family members whose days are numbered. If they want to come see me and stay at my house, then they come regardless of the protocol… It’s MY CHOICE,” he continued in the statement.
He would rather put his own family at risk than do something that could help the entire continent emerge from this pandemic. This is as selfish as it sounds, in my opinion.
He is not the only one. The NFL has a 93 percent vaccination rate, which is pretty good, all things considered, but still leaves about 120 players unvaccinated across the league.
The ultimate irony is this: How many times have we heard an athlete, any athlete, say that they will do whatever it takes to win? Thousands of times, maybe hundreds of thousands of times and almost every professional athlete too.
And now here we are, with legitimate potential penalties for a virus outbreak, and a simple solution, and I guess the players have forgotten that they will do anything to win.
If people, in the NFL or elsewhere, actually cared about anything (teammates, families, winning) other than themselves, COVID-19 vaccination would not be an issue at this point. But selfishness is the real pandemic. It was there long before COVID-19 arrived and it will be there long after it’s gone, which is why I’m all for sports leagues enforcing mandatory vaccinations for players. And if they’d rather retire than follow the rules, good riddance, you won’t miss the game.