As evidenced by the number of players wearing masks on the sidelines during Saturday night’s preseason loss to the Colts, the Vikings still have plenty of players who haven’t gotten vaccinated. The Vikings will make another run at changing minds on Monday.
The issue of vaccination hesitation among Vikings players had gotten quiet in recent days. Peter King described the situation in Monday’s Football Morning in America as a “comatose issue.” Today’s session could wake it up again.
“I went pretty hard there for a while with our quarterback [Kirk Cousins], and a bunch of other guys, good players, who are not vaccinated,” coach Mike Zimmer said, per King. “I’ve said my piece. They’re got their heels dug in. I think it would’ve showed them what could happen when we had one quarterback for practice and we had to bring in two guys off the street. But they’re not gonna change. I just said the heck with it. I’m done talking about it.”
That’s what makes the decision to bring an expert in to talk about the situation so surprising. Cousins won’t be changing his mind. Others likely won’t be changing their minds. Even though not being vaccinated means: (1) daily testing; and (2) a minimum absence of 10 days if a player tests positive.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson has tried to get his new teammates to realize the obvious link between vaccination and availability. To no avail. Which means that the Vikings will be at constant risk of losing one or more key players before a game that potentially becomes a loss without them. And it’s one loss that can tip the scales away from a playoff berth.
Another argument that Zimmer, Peterson, and others can now make is this: FDA approval officially has arrived for the Pfizer vaccine. Of course, those who have hidden behind the lack of FDA approval undoubtedly will pivot to another talking point, or possibly just claim (without a shred of proof) that the FDA approval process was in some way rigged.
Finally, any unvaccinated players on the Vikings or other teams need to realize that, after the next preseason game, a mini-bye is coming. Vaccinated players can leave town. Unvaccinated players can’t. Between Dr. Osterholm’s comments and the FDA approval and the ability to enjoy the bye week that replaces what was the fourth regular-season game, maybe a few guys will finally realize that it’s time to do the right thing for themselves, their teams, and society.
No matter how many have that epiphany, it won’t be enough.