Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin has made the obvious connection between COVID vaccinations and victories in 2021, given the competitive advantages that flow from having as many players as possible on a given team vaccinated. And Irvin is right; the teams with the most vaccinated players will operate under 2019 rules. Those that don’t will deal with the hassles and annoyances of 2020’s COVID protocols, along with the day-in, day-out possibility of players returning a positive test.
One player who has become the unofficial leader of the NFL’s anti-vaxx movement disagrees with Irvin.
“That’s not what that means,” Bills receiver Cole Beasley tweeted in response to PFT’s story regarding Irvin’s remarks. “You can be vaccinated and not do all the right things football wise to be at your best. All it means is players are gonna be out there with covid and we won’t know cause they only get tested once a week so the NFL can make their money.”
Beasley’s facts are a little off. Vaccinated players will be tested once every two weeks, not every week. Also, unvaccinated players who will be tested every single day will constantly be at risk of ending up on the COVID reserve list on Saturday or Sunday. If that happens to a key player, the team will have to pivot to a replacement, quickly.
Also, yes, Beasley is absolutely right when he says that the NFL wants to play its games and make its money. This allows the players to make their money, too. After all, it’s a multi-billion-dollar for-profit enterprise. For the players to get paid, the league needs to get paid. Beasley, who has made millions and will make several million more this year (unless the Bills cut him), shouldn’t be complaining about the NFL making the money that becomes his salary.
As to Beasley’s contention that a player “can be vaccinated and not do all the right things football wise to be at your best,” he’s technically right. Irvin’s point is that the players who are committed to maximum performance and availability will view the question of whether to get vaccinated not as a political statement or the potential implementation of microchips into their bodies but as another box to check on the path to a potential championship. And if a player is able to set aside the misinformation and other nonsense and get vaccinated in the name of winning, he’s more likely to do all the other things he needs to do to help his team win.
Beasley’s refusal to see the clear connection between maximum vaccination rates and maximizing the chances of competing against other NFL franchises shouldn’t come as a surprise. Beasley has decided that he’s not getting the vaccine, and nothing anyone says will change his mind — no matter how logical or persuasive it may be.
That’s the bigger problem the country currently faces. Those who refuse to get vaccinated will not suddenly say, “Hey, you’re right!” in response to constant haranguing from those who have gotten the vaccine. It will require something bigger than that to get their attention.
The fact that ultra-competitive pro athletes who routinely set aside their personal preferences in the name of greater good won’t even consider setting aside their desire not to be vaccinated in the interests of helping the team proves how difficult it will be to get the average person to change his or her mind at this point.