Last week, The National Football League (NFL) released a memo outlining its COVID-19 policy for the upcoming season. The NFL will not be forcing players and coaches to get vaccinated; however, it is incentivizing them to do so.
Specifically, if a contest is cancelled because of a COVID outbreak and cannot be rescheduled, the team with infected players will forfeit the game, assume all costs associated with the cancelation, and players on both squads will not be paid that week.
Following the NFL’s memorandum, a cohort of furious players voiced their displeasure. Arizona Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins tweeted: “Never thought I would say this, but being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL.” Thereafter, Hopkins tweeted that his girlfriend’s brother “had heart problems” after being inoculated.
LA Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey tweeted: “The NFL is pressuring/ influencing guys to get the vaccine. They are saying if there is an outbreak, the team will be penalized heavily…I know 2 people right now who got the vaccine but are covid positive.”
LA Raiders running back and anti-vaxxer Jalen Richard said unvaccinated players will be “playing in jail” this year.
Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley who’s spoken regularly against receiving the jab tweeted, “nothing has changed, I’m still livin freely.”
New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon simply said, “The NFLPA (NFL Players Association) f–king sucks.”
At TQC, we often concur with libertarians on a myriad of issues. We believe in a smallish government and that individuals should do as they please so long as they abide by the law and do not impose their will on anybody by means of coercion or fear of reprisal. However, in extraordinary circumstances, we think there is a place for policymakers to enact and enforce sensible rules and regulations to protect public health and/or their own employees, so long as they are not onerous to abide by. The coronavirus global pandemic qualifies as such. Hence, we agree with the NFL’s COVID policy; it makes prudent sense.
Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield said, “COVID-19 vaccines give teams competitive advantage”. Mr. Mayfield is correct. The NFL’s memo also stated that if a team has at least 85% of its players and staff inoculated, safety protocols can be relaxed.
My Body My Choice
The legal minutia exceeds the scope of this post, but generally, employers and government agencies can indeed impose vaccination mandates upon their employees and staff. For example, a federal judge recently ruled that the University of Indiana acted lawfully when it mandated that all students and faculty get vaccinated. In fact, this week, the U.S. government mandated vaccines for federal workers and on-site contractors. Regardless of one’s opinion about the law, there is a legal precedent for requiring immunizations.
The NFL has many rules and regulations regarding player safety. For instance, all players must wear approved helmets, shoulder pads, and other gear. We have not heard of a player rejecting these commonsense mandates. And while the NFL could legally compel players to be vaccinated, instead, it has implemented a reasonable policy that encourages – but does not mandate – its players and staff to get jabbed.
At TQC, we respect the hard work and dedication it takes to earn a spot on an NFL roster. The men who compete at this level are tremendous athletes with unparalleled skill sets, the elite of the elite. However, just because somebody has earned a spot in the NFL does not automatically make them an expert on all topics. Unfortunately, because they are football players, their social media posts on topics unrelated to the game have a disproportionate impact on uninformed people, regardless of if they are factual or not.
A tiny minority of people are not eligible for a COVID vaccine - or any vaccine - for medical reasons. By law, legitimate religious beliefs justifiably exclude a few others. But by and large, most people who are steadfast against being vaccinated, including those men in the National Football League, are simply misinformed about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
We do not know why DeAndre Hopkins does not want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. However, we can infer from his comments about his girlfriend’s brother that he believes the vaccine causes “heart problems.”
This is a classic example of one being confused between causation and correlation. In short, just because Mr. Hopkins’s girlfriend’s brother experienced heart issues after receiving a vaccine, does not mean the vaccine was the cause of his heart ailments. Furthermore, while no vaccine, medication, medical device, or medical procedure is 100% safe, the probability of a person suffering serious complications or death from COVID-19, is exponentially higher than one experiencing a serious complication from a COVID-19 vaccine.
We do not know why Jalen Ramsey does not want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. However, we can infer from his tweet that because he knows two inoculated people that tested positive, he believes the vaccine is ineffective. Hence, it’s pointless to get jabbed.
Of course, that is incorrect. No vaccine is 100% effective. COVID-19 vaccines are initially ~95% efficacious at preventing serious complications and death. As of this writing, ~160 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Assuming ~95% efficacy, there will still be millions of “breakthrough cases,” individuals who both receive a vaccine and become infected. That is mutually exclusive from the fact that COVID vaccines are extremely efficacious. Said virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen, “You might test positive, but the vast majority of people who are fully vaccinated are not going to get very sick from it or sick from it at all.”
Vaccines are safe and they work. Indeed, the fact is that right now over 97% of all hospitalizations and 99.5% of COVID deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.
Cole Beasley has received more attention by publicly refusing to receive a jab, than his accolades receiving footballs. Regretfully, Mr. Beasley appears misinformed not only about the COVID-19 vaccine, but about astronomy. The earth revolves around the sun, not himself.
Mr. Beasley might think he is “livin freely” – whatever that means – by refusing a shot, but his intransigence coupled with his social media posts, places other vulnerable people and his fellow NFL’ers at greater risk.
Regretfully, when somebody is emotionally incapable of recognizing what is rationally obvious, it is difficult to effect change.
Playing In Jail
Jalen Richard recently signed a two-year $7 million contract extension with the LA Raiders, including $3.375 million in guaranteed money. The NFL enacted a prudent and responsible policy to encourage Mr. Richard and his fellow players and coaches to get vaccinated. If that constitutes “playing in jail,” sign us up.