Bengals' Joe Mixon Calls Out NFLPA over Updated COVID-19 Protocols

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIJune 16, 2021

Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon carries the ball during an NFL football camp practice in Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
AP Photo/Aaron Doster

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon took to Twitter to express his feelings on the updated COVID-19 protocols that were agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association on Wednesday.

⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ @Joe_MainMixon

The @NFLPA is not for the players they act like they represent us and they clearly show us different time & time again. https://t.co/fIiTZMlkwY

The new rules largely grant freedom, so to speak, to players and team personnel who are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the memo, which was shared by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero

Those individuals are no longer required to wear masks or test for the virus daily and can travel and use facilities freely, while non-vaccinated individuals must follow similar protocols to last season, including daily testing, quarantining after exposure to COVID-19 and limits on group sizes in workouts and at meals, among other regulations. 

Mixon continued in a series of tweets, writing that he saw football as "being individualized by beliefs" before adding that he wasn't concerned about anyone's vaccination status: 

⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ @Joe_MainMixon

I love everybody and I show love to everyone vaccinated or not. “I RESPECT EVERYBODY who decides to get the vaccine or not. I’M NOT AGAINST EITHER! I WILL FIGHT & DIE FOR A RESPECTED DECISION”

He may be the odd man out on the Bengals.

Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor canceled minicamp after one day as a reward after the team reached a certain threshold regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. 

If a team has 85 percent of personnel vaccinated, it can resume normal, in-person operation in meetings and weight rooms.

Safety Jessie Bates III, who is an NFLPA representative, praised Taylor for "getting [players] the information we needed," while Taylor said the team offered the opportunity to receive vaccinations at the facilities.

"We had a fair number of our players [on Monday] who said they would get it [Wednesday]," Taylor told reporters. "I said, 'Hey, we’re well on our way to making life pretty easy for ourselves in training camp in terms of scheduling and all the protocols.' That combined with the work we’ve gotten done, we decided to move on until training camp."

He added that he didn't push players to get the vaccine, noting that "the last thing you want to do is tell somebody what to do with their body," and wanted instead to serve as a resource and provide information to help players make the right decision for them. 

That message got through, at least to Bates: 

"Coach Taylor has done just an awesome job communicating and letting guys know ahead of time before making that type of decision,” he said. “Giving guys options. Making guys feel comfortable. Enough to make a decision to get vaccinated or not. … We’re riding on a high note right now leaving mandatory minicamp." 

According to Pelissero, more than half of all rostered players in the NFL had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday.