The first NFL training camps started in less than six weeks, and COVID-19 remained the ominous cloud from which the league could not escape. Long-term concerns are no longer related to the understanding of the coronavirus or the establishment of comprehensive protocols to combat it. Now the ongoing agitation surrounds a simple question and the numerous consequences associated with the answer.
Who is vaccinated?
This is what decision makers on NFL teams want to know. And behind them stand the league office and the players’ union, along with a number of medical advisers who almost beg the players to listen to a single message. The mantra: Your best protection against COVID comes in the form of a vaccine.
Whether this will motivate players (or obviously some assistant coaches, in that sense) to shoot is a matter of debate. This forces league and union medical staff to try to educate and hope people listen.
“We encouraged players to be vaccinated on Day 1,” added DeMoris Smith, the union’s chief executive. “It’s not really a matter of my feelings. The point is to ensure that players have access to all the information. Their ability to connect and call me – I’ll tell them that as soon as they call me, I send them to Tom Meyer, our medical advisor or one of our other specialists. But we called on players to get the vaccine. We called on them to make sure that they just make a decision that is informed. “
This is the main place where the players’ vaccination league is currently. He offers information and hopes for the best. And it comes from all over. The league offered medical advice on the matter. Teams attract professionals to talk to players and staff. The NFLPA is asking players who want the best vaccine information to pick up the phone and call them. All in an attempt to raise vaccination levels, which are apparently going at a slower pace than some in the league expected. How much slower? No one is saying exactly, neither the NFL nor the union provide specific data on vaccination levels as the league’s one-month hiatus approaches next week.
Instead of hard numbers, most teams gave vague updates to their prospects. Green Bay Packers employees are almost completely vaccinated, for example – but players are not. Chicago bears are in the same boat. The coaching staff of Detroit Lions has been fully vaccinated, but refused to provide up-to-date information on the condition of the players. The Washington football team was approaching 50 percent vaccination among players this week. This is a similar story for most teams. They were left to highlight progress (which usually involves coaches or staff), but provide vague details about the struggles (which usually involve players).
However, the San Francisco 49ers provided a very telling picture of their own efforts to vaccinate against COVID, saying that by this week, 53 of their list of 91 people had already been fully vaccinated and five other players were expecting their second dose of the vaccine. And the other 33 players? Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the goal is to get 20 more players on board over the next 40 days. This would clear up the 85 percent vaccination that teams are shooting at in hopes of easing their COVID protocols at the start of training camp.
In their current form, NFL franchise owners have agreed to ease protocols for teams that reach the vaccination standard. The fine details of this commitment and how they will affect the training camps are not yet available. And that’s a commitment that teams want – at least in part, because it can be used as a clear motivation for everyone in the franchise.
An NFC head coach was clear on the matter, saying: “There was no declaration of the difference in camp if you reached a certain threshold. I would like that to happen. “
This could be a development that would help teams make a strong push over the next six weeks to reach 85 percent vaccination, especially when most players have vaccines available for nearly two months, but many refuse to. engage in such. The remaining detentions attract the most intense efforts of the teams. And heading for the league break, this turns into a climb up some franchises.
As one general manager of Yahoo Sports said: “I’ve seen where the boys say [to the media] that they want more information about vaccines – which I think is a fair approach. But in terms of our staff working for information [players] against those who come to us for information, we have more players asking questions [painkiller] Toradol in the last week than we have for vaccines. I think some guys don’t want to be involved with that, honestly. So we are working on how to solve this, how to provide them with what they need and what to do if we can’t reach that 85 percent. This will be a project for some of us so far [training] camp. “
Asked if this was disappointing, the CEO replied: “A lot. But this is life in the last year. “
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians seems to be repeating a similar mood on Thursday when he noted that the team is committed to driving its own vaccines for players and their families.
“There will be a long queue there at the moment,” Arians told reporters. “So far we have been quite low. I hope we have a pretty good line. “
Arians said he told the players, “If you want to get back to normal, get vaccinated,” but apparently stopped hiring a specialist to talk to the team, as Washington coach Ron Rivera did this week.
“I’m the specialist,” Arians said.
Of course, all this is formed predictably given the functionality of the league. Front offices and coaching staffs want their teams to work with the fullest possible capacity for work and development. And they see the clearest path to being a vaccination line that promises to mitigate not only the extent of the infection, but also the long-term sacrifice the virus can make on a player’s health within a season.
Conversely, players often make conservative measurements as to their health and whether teams always have the best interest. And COVID vaccines are likely to cause even more thought and caution due to the emergency use permit, which allowed them to circumvent the typical long-term FDA study and approval process.
This is how you get players like Washington’s defender, Montez Swat and Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, telling reporters that they are cautious about the vaccine and may eventually choose to give it up altogether.
“I’m not a fan of that,” Sweat said this week. “I probably won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts and things like that. I’m not a fan of that at all. … I haven’t caught COVID yet, so I don’t see how I’m treating COVID until I actually get COVID. “
Darnold backed his intentions more, but also said he was not committed to getting vaccinated.
“I still have to think about all those things that go into that,” he said. “Again, everyone has a choice whether they want to be vaccinated or not. So that’s really all I have on it. I don’t want to go into too much detail. “
Whether Darnold, Pot, or many of the other detainees will receive the information they are looking for between now and the start of training camp remains to be seen. But it is clear that the league, the union and the individual franchisees will continue to move forward.
As the union’s best doctor put it, everyone is trying to get older men to make decisions about adult buttocks, all hoping to put COVID-19 as far as possible in the rearview mirror.
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