The NFL is taking a hard line against players who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and some players are really not happy about it.
In a memo to teams on Thursday shared by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the NFL laid out what the consequences will be for teams that experience breakouts caused by or among unvaccinated players. The NFL will no longer be bending over backward to postpone and reschedule games if one of those breakouts occurs. Teams will be forced to forfeit if the game has to be cancelled, and players on both teams won't get paid.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a pretty strong response to the memo. In a now-deleted tweet, he made it clear he wasn't happy about the NFL's new policies.
"Never thought I would say this, but being put in a position to hurt my team because I don't want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL."
That's a pretty big statement to make. Even though Hopkins deleted it, he continued tweeting his vaccine opinions.
Other players respond to NFL vaccine memo
Hopkins wasn't the only one with an opinion about the NFL's new policies. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette tweeted "Vaccine I can't do it..." and then deleted it shortly after.
New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon had a four word response to the new policy: "The NFLPA f***ing sucks."
Las Vegas Raiders running back Jalen Richard, who said two years ago that he wouldn't be vaccinating any of his children due to his own "research" and "religious beliefs," tweeted that he's not anti-vax, and the world has "so much hate in their heart these days."
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey didn't reveal his own vaccination status, but he said that none of his teammates would feel any pressure from him to get it. He also (correctly) pointed out that getting the vaccine doesn't mean you can't get COVID, according to the CDC. However, he didn't point out that the vaccine makes it harder for you to get and spread COVID to others, and can help you avoid getting seriously ill if you do get infected.
Tyler Lockett had other concerns. The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver has been vaccinated, but took issue with a policy the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed on last year: if a game is cancelled due to a COVID outbreak, no players get paid. The NFL is carrying over that policy to this year, but making a slight change. Regardless of which team they're on, players on both teams won't get paid if a game is cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among or caused by unvaccinated players.
Something the NFL also included in Thursday's memo was player and team vaccination rates, which are admirably high. 75 percent of players have been fully or partially vaccinated, and more than half of the NFL's 32 teams have vaccination rates above 80 percent.
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