The NFL wants teams to come up with a way to distinguish vaccinated from unvaccinated players on the practice field. Some teams are doing it. The NFL Players Association wants none to do it.
“We did not agree to them and think they are unnecessary,” NFLPA president and Browns center JC Tretter said in a column posted Monday on the union’s website.
The NFLPA, as explained over the weekend, wants to minimize the potential for players lashing out about vaccines, fearful that those outbursts will potentially influence others to not get vaccinated. The wristband approach could prompt unvaccinated players to sound off, since it prevents them from keeping their vaccination status private (even though HIPAA has nothing to do with it).
Tretter closes his column with an aspirational message — but also with a clear slap at last Thursday’s memo from the NFL, which NFLPA spokesman George Atallah previously called “classically tactless.”
“The NFL wants every game to be played,” Tretter wrote. “The players want every game to be played. The fans and media want every game to be played. It will take all of us to accomplish our goal of playing a full season and crowning a Super Bowl champion. We have the same goal. Every stunt like that memo only makes our success less likely. We need each other to accomplish it. The NFL has to be better, and we need to stick together as players and as a union to make this work again.”
In other words, the league needs to use honey not vinegar to persuade the remaining vaccine-hesitant players to change their tune. And the entire league needs to have a broader spirit of commitment and cooperation. Although last week’s memo creates a clear incentive to cut unvaccinated players, plenty of them are too good to be cut. (As we noted last week, one team has seven unvaccinated players who won’t be cut due to their skill level.) The goal should be to find a way to prevail on those who resist being vaccinated with reason, logic, facts, and common sense. Threats won’t work. Yelling at them won’t work.
In the end, nothing may work. But at least the unvaccinated players may feel less inclined to run to social media and post anti-vaccine sentiments.