News emerged over the last week that the NFL will be issuing punishments to teams that will have to postpone fixtures due to Covid outbreaks in their squads. The result is to have the majority of players and staff vaccinated as soon as possible. A team with an outbreak of Covid will be credited with a loss if the match cannot be rescheduled within the 18-week season.
The result of this will largely influence the team’s playoff hopes, especially if the team cannot afford to have the extra loss on the season record. This could potentially knock on toward draft seedings and waiver priorities also. It was also added that both teams will not receive their scheduled salaries if the fixture is not fulfilled.
From the competitive point of view, this will potentially make being vaccinated a tactical advantage for teams over others. An easy win for some is the likely event. The league wants and would recommend that 85% of the squad are vaccinated. This means they can allow the teams looser protocols when it comes to Covid.
This would also mean more freedom regarding training, less isolation if there is an outbreak and making way for safer games, especially with all the travelling to different parts of the country.
Do the league have a moral obligation to consider whether the players would want the vaccine in the first place?
Frankly speaking, no, the league does not need to consider the feelings of the players.
The players are an expendable resource to the product the NFL is providing, which of course is the game of football. In football terms their will always be ‘The Next Man Up’, someone who is ready and waiting to take someone’s place if required. That’s not to say the league do not care about the players. Of course they do. That’s why they want them to be vaccinated in the first place.
They want to look after the players because they are human beings at the end of the day. They also know that the players have friends and family outside of the game that this will also help protect.
The NFL is a money-making machine, not just in the U.S, but globally too. Cancelled fixtures will cost money and will start ruining viewing figures. Fans not being able to attend means lack of merchandise sales, especially internationally. The punishment of holding back salaries is a way of making some of the money back, but maybe not wholly justified in punishing both teams if only one is the offender. The way they are going about things is very business like because ultimately they want to protect their bottom line, any business does.
Providing football last season would of made a massive dent in their pocket. Rearranged fixtures, no international series, all the allowances to help teams with Covid protocols and having no fans in stadiums all would of contributed to this. The NFL want to continue providing their service and with this statement, are showing their intent of how they want to go about doing it.
Whenever somebody does something, what might be good for them, is not always necessarily good for someone else.
This statement has divided opinion across the football world. The NFL are being accused of taking away a person’s freedom to choose with regards to the vaccine. The freedom to choose is still there, nobody could take that away.
The choice to take the vaccine in this situation is just the same as maybe having to walk away from football, the thing you love doing, because you do not agree with it. The NFL ideally want the players to have it but will not stand in the way if they do not. They might just have to prepare for what’s heading their way if they choose not to.
The way this is being done is to put the responsibility down on the teams and the players. If for some reason there are still more outbreaks, in true management style, the NFL can push the blame this way rather than it being on them.
The parties involved know the rules, it is their duty to play by them, so to speak.
This tactic will then ultimately let the responsibility rest on those who have not had the vaccination and played by the rules.
It is saying to the players in this case, ‘do you want to be the person who lets your team and fans down because you are the reason a loss has been put on your record?’.
In many respects, this does not sound like a choice, but it is, the player can choose to walk away if he wants.
It is a cruel to be kind approach that many would not agree with, but it is a cut-throat in the world of sport and the NFL are aiming for the jugular.
How the next season plays out is essentially resting in the players hands, or what is or is not put into their arms.
The players still have a choice
The NFL have said their piece and now it is time for the players to make their choice.
Obviously, their will be some that think this is a no brainer. They have the vaccination; they get to carry on with doing the thing they love. Some will be sitting on the fence for now, seeing what is going on and will make the choice in the moment.
For others, they feel like they are being forced into a decision they did not really want to make or are dead set against it. However, the choice is still ultimately theirs to make.
There is no wrong or right choice. We all have our opinions and ultimately must do the thing that is best for us and those closest to us. It all depends on how you want to live the rest of your life. This goes for every single person, not just NFL players in this case. We have all been in the same situation for the past 15 months. Some of us have had it harder than others, but the whole world has been affected, regardless of race, gender or age.
A vaccination against a virus that has the potential to not only be life saving to you but the others around you is surely worth considering. This vaccine is not the first vaccine most of us have had and surely will not be the last. Why now is this such a big choice?
Especially since millions have had the vaccine with very little side effects or major problems.
Surely this isn’t a choice at all. If the decision is made to not vaccinate, so be it, but expect to have to deal with risks and a certain set of rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. This will certainly be the case with organized sports, in particular the NFL.
“We fell asleep in one world and woke up in another” is a quote quite poignant to this situation. What do we do when we find ourselves in a different place and are experiencing something new?
We learn, we adapt and use the tools provided to do the tasks in front of us. This sort of belief should come to football players easily. The players train, prepare themselves for what is coming next.
They are faced with adversity on the field and find new ways to deal with what is coming at them. The vaccine could be the O line and the person is the Quarterback. Some O lines are better than others and some protect in a different way, but having some protection is better than none, just ask Andrew Luck!
Their minds are their tools, they know their jobs well and this is so they can make the right decisions at the right times. Perhaps off the field, now is the right time to make the right decision, not just for themselves but for others too.
Whatever decision is made by the players and whether we agree with them or not, it will still only be right and fair to support the one they make. After all, they are still human beings like the rest of us.
Agree or disagree with anything in this article? Please feel free to leave a comment on @FranchiseSprts or with me @HappyHappySteve