The COVID-19 vaccination has been a very hot button issue in America since it came out.
That debate has heated up among NFL players as the NFL and NFLPA agreed on restrictions for non-vaccinated players in 2021. They sound strict on paper, which got Cincinnati Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon upset at the organization designed to protect players.
I thought Football was a team sport and it’s clearly being individualized by beliefs...— ⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ (@Joe_MainMixon) June 16, 2021
It should be noted that Mixon has not stated publicly whether he himself has been vaccinated or not. It seems the issue more lies with how he perceives the NFLPA not protecting all players interests, including those who choose to not get vaccinated.
It should come as no surprise that teams probably pushed for mandatory vaccinations for players after seeing how COVID-19 outbreaks completely dismantled parts of the schedule or had teams missing their players with even just contact with someone who tested positive. Mind you, these measures were and still are meant to protect the safety of the players and those who interact with them.
The NFLPA was able to at least allow players the choice to not get vaccinated as well as protect their play even if they miss games due to COVID-19 related absences. The NFLPA comes from a point with little ground to stand on in most cases. The average NFL player really doesn’t want to miss a pay check, and the NFL always has the threat of a lockout in most situations like this to get what they want as the owners will be just fine.
Mixon did go on to tweet that he respects both sides of the argument, which shows his frustration seems to be rooted with the NFLPA. At this point though, it seems like the easy way to avoid these restrictions is to get a vaccine. Otherwise, these measures are put in place to protect players and those around them.
We have seen some teams take interesting methods to encourage their players to get vaccinated. Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera brought in a vaccine expert to talk with his players about it. That is a move more NFL teams should follow as educating people about the actual facts around these vaccines is a critical step in getting people on the fence to maybe reconsider. That method may be more favorable to players than putting restrictions on them.
However, the NFL was never going to just allow unvaccinated players to go around without restrictions.