The inconsistent rules of the NFL and NFL Players Association when it comes to vaccinated and unvaccinated players along with coach Urban Meyer’s apparent desire to run his pro team the same way he ran his college teams have created a mess for the Jaguars.
They are now trying to clean it up.
“Availability is one of the many factors taken into account when making roster decisions,” the team said in a general statement issued Wednesday morning, with no specific name attached to it. “We have vaccinated and unvaccinated players on our roster, and no player was released because of their vaccination status. Ultimately, decisions are based on a player’s ability to help the Jaguars win. We educate our players and respect personal decisions as it pertains to the vaccine. We want to keep our players, staff and families safe as we comply with protocols related to both health and safety and competition on game days.”
The agreed rules of the league and the union prevent teams from considering vaccination status. However, those same rules also create a very strong incentive to shed players whose availability will be impacted by vaccination status. That’s the needle the Jaguars are now trying to thread, given Meyer’s remarks.
Meyer surely knew the third-rail nature of any comments connecting roster spots and vaccination status. When you watch his comments (check out the attached video), it’s almost as if he considered not going there before deciding, “F–k it, it’s a stupid rule and I’ll say what I want.”
As the Jaguars are learning, the best approach on matters of this nature is to say nothing. Or, if all else fails, to do what Patriots coach Bill Belichick did earlier today and lie.
Football coaches lie. They lie all the time. They lie for important strategic reasons. For Meyer, it wasn’t a matter of honoring the Eighth Commandment. He opted for candor on an issue where, given the inconsistent rules, discretion will always be the better part of valor.