Jaguars admit “availability” was a factor in roster decisions, but claim vaccination status was not

Cleveland Browns v Jacksonville Jaguars
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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.

13 responses to “Jaguars admit “availability” was a factor in roster decisions, but claim vaccination status was not

  1. Half the Colts started on offense are reportedly unvaccinated. Just goes to show that if you are good enough you will get a roster spot regardless of status.

  2. I really don’t have a problem with cutting guys who aren’t vaxxed. Availability is a massive part of being a professional athlete. Being double vaxxed gives you a slightly better chance of not getting the virus and spreading it around the rest of the team, and not getting the symptoms as bad – possibly keeping you not as long as someone who gets hit hard. A 3rd string guy is better than a 2nd string guy who is out.

  3. How could it be “against the rules” to cut a person based on vax status when the NFLPA is stating that vax status can affect the time you are not with the team?

  4. As I said already but it needs emphasizing: NFLPA agreed to a set of hoops with reduced availability as a punishment, all designed to railroad (er, sorry, encourage) players to get vaxxed. But NFLPA then complain when a team gives a roster spot to a guy who got vaxxed and is thus likely more available instead of the unvaxxed guy who’s likely less available because of rules NFLPA agreed to. It’s stupid to blame teams.

  5. With all of the mistakes Urban Meyer has made so far, I wonder if Shad Khan wishes he had hired someone else.

  6. Well, I’ve heard it said about a million times in the last few months – if two players are on the bubble, ultimately it’s less of a hassle to keep one who’s vaccinated vs. unvaccinated.

    There is no way to litigate this issue. Teams will never come out and say “we cut him because he’s unvaccinated”, and it’s never that simple, but if a guy is close to being cut, being unvaccinated will work against him, most likely.

  7. minime says:
    September 1, 2021 at 11:17 am
    Jaguars are the poster boy on how NOT to run an NFL team.

    Nah, that would be the Texans. Jags are definitely in 2nd place though.

  8. Common Sense: If you have 2 players that have performed about the same in the preseason/training camp and have similar talent, it only makes sense to use availability issues as a factor along with any other variables a staff would use to make the final decision. More companies are starting to make it a requirement to get vaccinated so no reason why professional sports should not take that step as well asap. No one wants cancelled games and players losing paychecks.

  9. Too many fall for the religious and Republican conspiracy theories about getting vaccinated. It’s unfortunate.

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