Bruce Arians Told Bucs Players to Get Vaccinated 'If You Want to Go Back to Normal'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 2021

TAMPA, FL - MAY 15: Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians answers questions from the media after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Minicamp on May 15, 2021 at the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he delivered a simple message before the franchise hosted a COVID-19 vaccine drive for players and their families Thursday.

"If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated," Arians said.

The two-time NFL Coach of the Year said the Bucs are working toward getting 85 percent of the organization vaccinated, which could allow for less stringent COVID-19 restrictions when the league announces the guidelines for the 2021 season.

"There's gonna be a long line over there right now," Arians said of the vaccination drive. "We were pretty short up until now. Hopefully we have a pretty good line."

The Buccaneers' run to last season's Super Bowl title was made more impressive by the fact they welcomed quarterback Tom Brady into the fold and were able to overhaul the offense without the benefit of preseason games or a normal type of practice regimen.

Beyond that, Arians explained the more mundane things like meetings and meals were also impacted by last year's safety protocols.

"Everybody's tired of meeting out here and eating outside, and doing all those things we had to do last year," he said. "It's still a personal choice, but I don't see a reason not to be vaccinated."

The 68-year-old New Jersey native added he hasn't encountered any vaccine hesitancy within the roster, but rather felt most players were "too lazy" to seek out vaccination options during the offseason, an excuse eliminated by bringing the shots directly to the team facilities.

In May, the NFL announced players and staff who were fully vaccinated would no longer have to wear masks at the club facilities and noted guidelines for the upcoming campaign would likely be "consistent with CDC guidelines" at the time of training camp and the regular season.

Despite the continued vaccination push, Tommy Beer of Forbes reported Thursday teams are dealing with "substantial vaccine hesitancy" among players who've "expressed skepticism" about safety.

"COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its official website. "After you've been fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic."

NFL training camps will open in late July, giving teams about six more weeks to reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold.