Two players went on the COVID-19 reserve list on the Washington Football Team today, which brought renewed attention to Washington’s status as the team with the most unvaccinated players in the NFL.
Washington coach Ron Rivera, who was treated for cancer last year, is hoping players will consider that his immune system remains weakened when they decide whether to get the vaccine.
“I think just making the statement that I am immune deficient is hopefully part of their conversation and their thought process,” Rivera said in comments distributed by the team. “Again, it is a personal decision, and we just hope that we can get more guys vaccinated.”
Rivera said the vaccine will be available to players tomorrow and he hopes some will get it.
“We will see tomorrow,” Rivera said. “Tomorrow we are hoping that we will get some more guys vaccinated. We will see. It is a difficult topic. I have tried to broach it with a lot of our players and have talked with a lot of our guys that haven’t. It is a personal thing, but hopefully, we can sway it. Hopefully.”
Rivera also tried to impress on players the competitive disadvantages facing teams with more unvaccinated players, as the NFL has stricter protocols about isolating unvaccinated players who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
“And that’s part of the problem,” Rivera said. “I mean, to be very honest, that’s going to make things difficult and that’s the thing we have to be aware of. It makes it difficult in terms of everybody working together. Difficult on us as coaches with our evaluations and the scouts. It will be difficult on the player because having time off, not really getting an opportunity to work, develop, grow and learn, that’s the downfall, and the downside. I mentioned it to our guys. I said, ‘you know, here is the what if scenario: what if this had been game day Sunday for the opener?’ Even though it’s only contact tracing for some of them, that’s five days. So, if this is the opener, imagine this, opening against Los Angeles, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, playing Thursday night against the Giants. Those guys would not be eligible. So, to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are and I hope it helps. But again, these young men have to make their decisions.”
It is ultimately the players’ decision. But there’s little doubt that the right decision is to get vaccinated.