NFL News

As training camps get underway, the NFL is doubling down on immunizations.

When NFL training camps open for the season, two things are becoming abundantly clear: league officials are committed to playing — and finishing — on time.
The first is that, while COVID-19 vaccinations are quite successful, they are not without flaws.
It was evident Monday, when Indianapolis disclosed that despite being properly vaccinated, coach Frank Reich had tested positive for the virus.
The second point to consider is that players who refuse to get vaccinated have a slim chance of playing a complete season of football this autumn.
The NFL is tough on immunizations, much to the chagrin of a few players who can’t seem to grasp that vaccines are overwhelmingly beneficial.
If players arrive at camp without their shots, they may expect a lot of testing, hefty fines, and a lot more if they develop COVID-19 cases that cause the season to be disrupted.
They also run the risk of being shunned by their teammates, who believe that having their vaccinations demonstrated a better understanding of how vaccines and big business function.
It’s debatable whether this is sufficient to bring all players to their senses.
Some have voiced their displeasure on social media, such Buffalo receiver Cole Beasley, who said last month that he would retire rather than get the vaccine.
Two assistant coaches have reportedly lost their jobs as a result of their refusal to be vaccinated.
Nonetheless, four out of every five NFL players have received at least one dosage of the vaccination as of the end of last week.
As camps open and gamers discover that the vaccination is not their enemy, that number should rise — and rise quickly.
Because, honestly, what do you have to be afraid of?
Vaccines have been given to tens of millions of individuals with few, if any, negative effects, and the vaccines are universally regarded as both safe and efficient.
Not to mention the fact that these are athletes who take a chance on their long-term health every time they take the field.
They have little to worry from a small side effect or two from a injection if they can risk having their brains scrambled and getting CTE from playing football.
You don’t want to get vaccinated in order to play?
Instead of wearing a helmet, why not just play without one?
To be clear, the NFL does not mandate that players be vaccinated.
They can choose whether or not to get their vaccinations, as long as they are willing to live with the consequences.
The league, on the other hand, is making it so tough to play the upcoming season without being vaccinated that the list of criteria and penalties for those who aren’t vaccinated has become a de facto mandate.
It isn’t always a terrible thing.
While the majority of Americans are getting vaccinated, those who refuse are increasing infection and hospitalization rates, prolonging a pandemic that has already lasted far too long.
And, in the end, the NFL is a $16 billion a year enterprise.
It can take measures it believes essential to protect that cash flow, subject to specific limitations stated forth in the contract with its players union.
The league isn’t the only one.
California and New York City also announced proposals on Monday to compel employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly.
Companies all throughout the country are following suit.
Sure, anti-vaxxers are enraged and vocal.
It’s difficult to ignore them, even if their teachings are frequently conflicting and illogical.
They have no right, however, to jeopardize the health – and livelihood – of those who follow the science and do the right thing.
This is especially true in the NFL, where players and coaches share locker rooms and on-field interaction is not just allowed but encouraged.
The number of NFL players who have received at least one shot is substantially higher than the general population, according to Allen Sills, the league’s senior medical officer.
Once the camps begin, he predicts that vaccinations will rise.
“There’s been a lot of activity there,” Sills remarked.
“As additional players arrive at training camp, more players will begin that procedure,” the players have been officially reminded.
The consequences for interfering with the season have been established.
And, by now, those who haven’t been vaccinated should realize how serious the league is about vaccines.
___ Tim Dahlberg is an Associated Press national sports columnist.
Send him an email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at