Should unvaccinated players on COVID-19 reserve in 2021 receive their game checks?

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In 2020, players who missed one or more games due to placement on the COVID-19 reserve list received their game checks, regardless of whether they caught the virus at work or away from it. This year, there’s an important question that needs to be asked: Should unvaccinated players who land on the COVID-19 reserve list during the season be paid?

A persuasive argument could be made to withhold game checks if players who choose not to be vaccinated miss work due to a condition for which a vaccine exists. Yes, it’s the player’s right to decide whether he should be vaccinated. But why should his team have to pay an unvaccinated player who isn’t allowed to play because he tested positive?

It’s ultimately a matter for negotiation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Although management and labor have decided that vaccines won’t be mandatory, real incentives to get vaccinated have been crafted by the two sides. With final rules and regulations for 2021 still to be determined, why not craft a simple provision that, if a player chooses not to get vaccinated and eventually can’t play because he has COVID-19 or because he’s had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, the player should not be entitled to receive his game check?

The approach seems fair. With team facilities generally safer than other places — especially if high percentages of players are vaccinated — there’s no reason to assume that anyone who gets it this year got it at work. If anything, it’s far more likely that whoever ends up getting it this year got it away from work. Why, then, should those players get paid?

With the salary cap roughly $25 million per team lower than it was expected to be this year, every dollar saved by not giving it to players who choose not to be vaccinated and then, because of that status, aren’t allowed to play becomes a dollar earned for next year’s cap. That’s definitely fair to the players who have chosen to get vaccinated, and who in turn will be available to play regardless of any COVID-19 developments.

This possibility creates a real conundrum for those who inexplicably have allowed matters relating to COVID-19 to become and remain political. Those inclined to shout down vaccination separately tend to adhere to the basic logic that people shouldn’t be paid money to which they aren’t entitled and that every dollar received must be earned through actual work. So why should a player who chooses not to be vaccinated and then who can’t play because he didn’t get vaccinated be entitled to be paid for work he can’t perform but, if vaccinated, could have?

However the question gets resolved, it’s a fair question to ask — and it’s a fair position to take that players who choose not to assume whatever remote risks there may be from getting the vaccination must instead assume the risk of not getting paid for games they can’t play, due to testing positive with COVID-19 or having close contact with someone who did.

71 responses to “Should unvaccinated players on COVID-19 reserve in 2021 receive their game checks?

  1. If most players are vaccinated, then why should a player who tests positive or has been exposed but otherwise feels fine not be allowed to play?

  2. Then you would have to withhold game checks from those who got the shot and test positive for covid too. I would bet money that will occur.

  3. Absolutely, considering being vaccinated doesn’t PREVENT you from getting Covid. Just the same as the Flu shot doesn’t always prevent you from getting the Flu.

  4. How does vaccine discrimination in the workplace not become a HIPPA violation?

  5. Would you withhold checks from players that get the flu but haven’t had the flu vaccine? Ridiculous.

  6. I know Covid and the flu are different, but they both have vaccines that are…well the claim is that the vaccines are optional. So do the players miss a game check if they cannot play due to the flu? I didn’t think so…

  7. Yes, unless in your contract it states you don’t get paid for games missed for this or any other reason. How would it be any different from a player that got the flu and missed a game? Flu shots are not mandatory. And it has been shown you can still get Covid even with the shot, are we saying those players that have been vaccinated would be allowed to play or just not kept from being paid?

  8. So you forcing a player/person to take a NON FDA approved injection. For something that DOES NOT prevent you from getting the COVID. For a virus that you have to CONTINUALLY get REVACCINATED, with a 99% survival rate! Also, explain me this: If they only need 77 players vaccinated and then they can go back to “normal”, wouldn’t that be considered “Herd” immunity? Which is what the CDC and W.H.O. says “IS NOT A THING”!

  9. “Yes, it’s the player’s right to decide whether he should be vaccinated.”
    ___________

    Why are we even acknowledging that there is some right to not get vaccinated? There is no right to send your children to school without being vaccinated for measles, polio, and typhoid. Likewise, there is no right to deliberately decide to endanger the public health by internationally spreading dangerous diseases.

  10. If it was FDA approved, maybe, since it is their personal choice. Since it is not FDA approved it seems silly to dock someone a paycheck for choosing to wait.

    For those that are going to say it is FDA approved, EUA is NOT approval.

  11. No. It’s just like any other virus. People should be expected to get vaccinated to perform work in contact with others.

  12. Do players get paid if they get the flu? What about players that are have covid and are asymptomatic? They are healthy enough to play but are not being allowed to. These players may be willing to go to work but can’t so yes they absolutely should get paid.

  13. I think its fair. Everyone is free to make their own choices but so are others around them, and that includes employers for whom the bottom line is whether the employee can contribute or not, and that feeds into whether to pay for a contribution they cannot make. I don’t think this question is going to be limited to Football teams or even sports.

  14. So where does this go from here Mike? If a player misses a game due to influenza, do we then withhold his game check because he didn’t get the flu shot? What about the cases of post vaccine infection that are presenting throughout our nation? Is OK to pay a player who was vaccinated but still contracted the virus, while not paying the unvaccinated? A person’s personal medical care is not something the NFL or any organization should be regulating.

  15. I made this comment over a month ago…. Players & coaches that refuse to get the vaccine & contract covid or have been exposed to someone that tests positive & can’t play or take part of daily operations SHOULD lose their game checks no matter who they are…..

  16. No.

    Employers should not mandate vaccines period unless the person is in an essential medical service.

    Educate players and provide on site vaccinations for those willing but don’t effectively mandate it.

  17. In the past 10 years, Healthcare workers were not allowed to work (terminated) if they refused the flu vaccine,much less the current covid19 vaccine. Kinda makes the free choice easier.

  18. League should probably take it a step further – no vaccine, no practice, playing, or paycheck. No service toward free agency.

  19. It’s going to be a hot topic, but my vote would be “no.” We’re at a place of personal responsibility at this point. If you have the option to be vaccinated against a contagion and choose not to be, then you can’t really complain if you contract the virus and can’t work.

    If I chose to go out and party all night, then couldn’t work in the morning, is that the fault of my employer or is it my own? Easy answer.

  20. If you lose time because you watch to much youtube then you dont get paid. It is your choice not to take a vaccine, but remember you are also choosing the consequences.

  21. Choices have consequences, which is seemingly and willfully ignored and not properly taught to many folks these days. More the pity…….

  22. Pretty much every employer has a concept of sick days. If you get sick with the flu and can’t play you still get paid – even if there is a flu shot

  23. If you want to take that vaccine – your body, your choice.

    If you don’t want to take the vaccine – your body, your choice.

    Period.

  24. No, they have had a million chances to get vaccinated. I accept there are people who for personal or religious reasons do not want to take the vaccine and I don’t judge them for it since others have the chance to protect themselves if they see fit. However, as many of those same people like to point out, there are consequences for your actions and an inability to do your job because of your decision should preempt you from getting paid for that job. That should apply to getting suspended for moronic behavior, getting hurt doing something stupid, or refusing to greatly reduce your risk for COVID with a vaccine.

  25. Since you have vaccinated people who test positive – hello NY Yankees staff – where does the line get drawn?

  26. Even though I think it’s silly that they’re not getting vaccinated, punishing them financially for getting sick is going too far. Unless teams used to take game checks from players who didn’t get flu shots and later got the flu, this a new policy that is entirely inconsistent with past protocols.
    It does however make the decision about cutting them or re-signing them easier in the future.

  27. The vaccine is readily available, if you want it get it, if you don’t then play at your own risk. I don’t understand why the NFL would even be testing for covid at this point

  28. They should absolutely NOT be paid. The vaccine works. No one is growing a tail or horns. It has not made people sick and has saved thousands of lives. Why should management of any company or team be responsible for the financial impact of a person who does not take care of themselves. It is incomprehensible that the fears based on internet fabrications should be absorbed by customers, leaders or other players who lose bonuses or income because of the childish behavior of someone. AND NO, the vaccine will not give anyone Covid – mRNA vaccines do not contain Covid virus (alive or dead) and mRNA vaccines have been in development and use for at least a decade – they are safe.

  29. At this point, anyone who wanted to be vaccinated would have been— easily.

    If you don’t want to help yourself and don’t care about protecting the people around you, don’t cry when you get sick. No check.

    The virus is now Natural Selection’s judge.

  30. In a free enterprise society the employee gets screwed why not the same in the national football league.

  31. Stop comparing the everyday flu with a pandemic virus…& if you get vaccine & still test positive you get paid because you took all necessary precautions not to get it….. it’s still new & mutating in the fools that don’t get vaccinated allowing it to still be more resistant to the people who did get vaccinated…..the way to really curb this pandemic is to get vaccinated so it can’t keep mutating……

  32. Yes. I’m not an attorney, but I would imagine, even though a employer can mandate the vaccine as a condition of employment a private business specifically. I certainly can foresee civil right lawsuits arising because of these conditions. Also, I’m not sure what each players contract would state, but I can’t see language such as mandatory vaccine being included in it.

  33. Players should receive whatever game checks they negotiated in their contracts. If that means they get paid for being out due to not being vaccinated and getting Covid then that’s on the team for not addressing that situation in the contract.

  34. COVID is a known issue that can have serious implications for a team’s functioning, which means its financial bottom line.

    Refusing a vaccine puts everyone around you at greater risk, potentially impacting their success and the success of the group.

    Why should someone be rewarded for not taking a basic precaution that tens of millions of adults without the enormous privilege of pro athletes have already taken?

    The question of whether someone should get paid if they get vaccinated and still get sick is easy. Yes, because they have taken the most reasonable and effective preventive measure.

  35. As part of my job, I am required to travel by plane. As such, I voluntarily chose to get vaccinated. Have the vaccines proven to be safe and effective? I would say, so far – yes. However, we are actually participating in the world’s largest clinical trial. These vaccines hit the market much earlier than typical vaccines are. There is no data on long term effects of the vaccine. Did i roll the dice in getting vaccinated? Yes.

    But, if someone else looks at the same data, and wants to wait a little bit to see if things change, i can’t fault them for it. Its a personal decision – and as much as we tout science, not all of the data is in at this point. Yes Covid is real, and for some can have lasting or permanent impact if you catch it. But the vaccines have only been out for 6 months. They can’t even tell us if or when we may need booster shots.

    Lets not politicize this. But i dont think we can withhold checks from players who choose not to get vaccinated.

  36. Incredible level of ignorance on this platform. COVID is not the flu. The employers are within their rights to ask their employees to get the readily available Covid vaccine or seek employment somewhere else. Some people here need to stop listening to whacky conspiracy theories and embrace science and logic. The vaccine works and without it, the pandemic will go on forever as the strands keep mutating. Let’s end this craziness!

  37. dwightiam says:
    June 10, 2021 at 7:36 am

    So you forcing a player/person to take a NON FDA approved injection. For something that DOES NOT prevent you from getting the COVID. For a virus that you have to CONTINUALLY get REVACCINATED, with a 99% survival rate! Also, explain me this: If they only need 77 players vaccinated and then they can go back to “normal”, wouldn’t that be considered “Herd” immunity? Which is what the CDC and W.H.O. says “IS NOT A THING”!

    **************

    The COVID survival rate is not 99%. It’s just barely north of 98% and some estimates are higher than that. When you’re talking life and death, that’s a big deal. (The mortality rate for the seasonal flu is less than one-tenth of 1%.)

    Severe cases of COVID requiring oxygen are about 15%, while an additional 5% of those infected are critical cases, requiring a ventilator. Also, somewhere between 10% and 30% of COVID-infected people are “long haulers,” experiencing significant symptoms for weeks and months after infection. Long-haul COVID can affect anyone, including those who had mild or almost no symptoms during the active phase, and not just people who have co-morbidities.

    Whether this whole game check thing makes sense or not, don’t forget that a person doesn’t get vaccinated just to protect himself, but to help stop the spread. And while the flu and COVID are both respiratory diseases, the risks of serious outcomes and death are significantly higher with COVID.

    It’s interesting to me that many of the people who clamored for a vaccine don’t want to take it now that it’s available. It’s disheartening that the vaccine has become a political issue in this country. People in most other countries think we’re nuts.

  38. A year into this, and dummies are still comparing it to the flu. We’re doomed.

  39. If getting vaccinated is a team or league rule then just follow the rules and get vaccinated,if not dont expect to get paid for breaking your employers rules.players have a clear choice,money or shots,its not that difficult.

  40. One point none of you have brought up. Say this person tests positive. Would the people he came into contact with not be considered close contacts as well? And therefore also be put on the covid-19 list if they too weren’t vaccinated? Some of you act like you not getting vaccinated only affects you. Can’t see past your two foot bubble. Meanwhile, in real life, my kids aren’t able to get the shot. If an adult, who is able to do so but doesn’t, gets sick, passes it to their kids, and they come into contact with my kids, they have to stay home. Then I have to stay home, unpaid, for two weeks. Bryson DeChambeau just lost 1.5 mil because he was a close contact and tested positive. We could see whole position groups out for a game if none of them are vaccinated, even if only one person tests positive due to being close contacts. People have mentioned actions have consequences. When will you all realize those consequences will most like affect more than just you?

  41. Strange to see so many “personal choice” advocates also in favor of employees getting paid if they don’t show up for work.

  42. This sounds like an issue the NFL needs to negotiate with the NFLPA.
    The problem with getting COVID is for some it takes weeks to recover full strength.
    If you don’t take a basic precaution (vaccination) and miss 4 weeks of the season that was your poor decision. In any case, this is an issue that needs to be negotiated.

  43. “Then you would have to withhold game checks from those who got the shot and test positive for covid too. I would bet money that will occur.”
    ___________

    This is an interesting sidelight to Covid that gets largely ignored: The tests are not anywhere close to 100% accurate and that holds both ways. Plenty of people had every Covid symptom right down to the loss of taste and smell and never tested positive while tons of others were undoubtedly false positives but got labeled as asymptomatic. Other than a few places like the NFL who was doing multiple tests of the same samples at different labs nobody else could actually prove if tests were correct or not since they were only running one test.

  44. The vaccine should not be required or forced on anyone. This is and/or should be a personal choice for all to make on their own accord. Down the road when more science can show mid-long term side effects of these vaccines I think conversations about requirement could at least be taken seriously, but it’s too early. Those who received the vaccine are taking a chance on their health while protecting themselves and potentially others, those who don’t get it are doing the exact same thing in a different way. Nobody should be ridiculed for taking or taking the vaccine, and nobody should be punished for it

  45. I also love the people saying it’s not FDA approved yet. Pfizer is about to get that in a minute. What’s going to be the excuse then? The entire world worked on this in concert. Point to another time that happened with any disease. Ignorance is bliss though. We’ll just keep dealing with these mutations indefinitely because of half the country not paying attention in biology class and being proud of it.

  46. If a player already had COVID and an antigen test confirms it, then those players should be treated the same as if vaccinated. Studies have shown they have as much protection against being reinfected as those who have taken the vaccine, maybe even more than those who took the J&J shot. Those players have a legitimate argument not to take the vaccine.

  47. It’s crazy that the vaccine has killed over 500k people. Oh wait, that was the virus.

  48. How many of you “no one can be forced to be vaccinated, it’s a personal choice” people went to public school? Or have kids who attend public school?

    You are aware that you can absolutely be required to be vaccinated against various diseases, right?

  49. People act like this vaccine is brand new and there’s no research on it at all and we’re all guinea pigs. THIS IS MISINFORMATION

    The development cycle for this vaccine started in 2003 following the SARS (aka SARS-CoV-1, compared to the current SARS-CoV-2) epidemic. Scientists have been working on it for almost 20 years.

    The entire reason Moderna was founded and funded by the government was to create mRNA vaccines exactly like this one. That was more than a decade ago.

  50. Absolutely not. If they don’t care enough about their fellow players or their teams, they shouldn’t be paid. Listening to conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers doesn’t qualify them for game checks.

  51. How much more information on the shot do you need? You either take it or you don’t. Then you face the consequences. Same as if you got caught speeding by the cops. You either agree to pay the fine or you get a chance to tell the judge in court your story.

  52. I’m laughing at the idiots on here that say the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting it. You’ve been mislead. It has a 99% chance prevent you from getting it. All of you that are going with the only a 1% chance of killing you, the vaccine gives you a 1% chance of getting it. No, they should not. They are making a personal choice and should except what comes with that choice.

  53. Ellicott Raven says:
    June 10, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Absolutely not. If they don’t care enough about their fellow players or their teams, they shouldn’t be paid. Listening to conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers doesn’t qualify them for game checks.

    ================================

    I know somebody that got very sick after getting the shot and died a week later. I know somebody else who got the shot a few months ago and still is suffering from severe headeaches. I don’t think the above person is qualified to comment.

  54. fireeyes111 says:
    June 10, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    How many of you “no one can be forced to be vaccinated, it’s a personal choice” people went to public school? Or have kids who attend public school?

    You are aware that you can absolutely be required to be vaccinated against various diseases, right?

    ———————-

    You mean school districts force kids to take vaccines that are not FDA approved?

  55. ktimmmtb says:
    June 10, 2021 at 11:58 am
    It’s crazy that the vaccine has killed over 500k people. Oh wait, that was the virus.

    ———-

    The vast majority of those were elderly or has pre-existing health conditions. How many NFL players or staff has it killed?

  56. Absolutely its been made political mostly by the left until the new president came in. Now its you have to get a vaccine or you don’t care about people. Absurd. I got it because it was my choice. I’m not worried about anybody for most people its no worse than the flu except for a small demographic.

  57. So if Brady/Rodgers/Mahomes, et. al. Refuse the unapproved Jab, they will be cut/fined? Don’t think so. Look behind the curtain to see what is really going on. Why would a healthy person take it with over 99% survival rate, just don’t get it.

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