Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins had a cryptic response upon learning of the NFL's new rules regarding games that are impacted by COVID-19-related absences.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the team experiencing an outbreak among unvaccinated players will forfeit any game that can't be rescheduled. In addition, players from both teams won't receive their game checks in the event of an outbreak-related forfeit, per Pelissero.
In a since-deleted post, Hopkins tweeted Thursday that "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."
One obvious question is how many players around the league share Hopkins' frustration.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been vocal in his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He said in June he didn't plan on getting vaccinated and that "a lot of other NFL players hold my position as well but aren't in the right place in their careers to be so outspoken."
ESPN's Kimberley A. Martin reported some around the league are feeling "forced" to get vaccinated after seeing the new policy:
Kimberley A. Martin @ByKimberleyA
I’ve spoken to NFL players who feel the league changed its tune, going from “it’s your choice” to get the Covid vaccine to now feeling “forced” (their word, not mine) to get it because of the restrictions for unvaccinated guys … <a href="https://t.co/LItropZ0m8">https://t.co/LItropZ0m8</a>
New England Patriots star Matthew Judon tweeted Thursday that "The NFLPA F--king sucks."
Cleveland Browns star Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, told reporters Wednesday he thought teams with a higher rate of vaccinations could have a competitive advantage. He also discussed the wider benefits of getting the vaccine:
Mayfield's comments echoed those of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who said getting vaccinated wasn't any different from working in other areas to improve and stay healthy.
"If you're not one of them teams [at the threshold], are you really thinking about winning a championship? You see what I'm saying," he said Monday. "OK, so now if you're not getting vaccinated and you got all these other teams that are getting vaccinated ..."
"Somebody in that damn locker room [should say], 'Hey man, we're going to have a chance, are you vaccinated?' Let's go through this because this could be a two-week healthy dude missing games, and in this league, this ain't the NBA. In this league that could be it for you. The right person misses two weeks, that's it. Your ass is out."
To prepare for the 2021 season, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to new COVID-19 protocols that relaxed restrictions put into place last year. One of the most important aspects is that fully vaccinated players won't have to go into quarantine if they come into contact with somebody carrying the virus. Likewise, Thursday's memo outlined that vaccinated players who test positive will only need two negative tests 24 hours apart to return to the field, while unvaccinated players with the virus will still be required to complete 10 days in isolation.
Players across the NFL had until July 2 to opt out of the upcoming season, with their 2021 salary rolling over to 2022. That deadline has passed, meaning Hopkins and others would face significant financial penalties in the event they decline to play.