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Bucs' Bruce Arians Slams Perceived Criticism over COVID-19 Wristbands at Practice

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 28, 2021

Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians excoriated the suggestion that his team was violating NFL rules by not properly wearing wristbands to identify vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

Speaking Tuesday, Arians said incorrect reporting gave a false perception of how the team conducts itself.

"If I give you some information, at least know the f--king rules before you put it in the press. Red and yellow bands—they don't have to wear them at practice," Arians said. "That's for indoors. I've gotta read s--t that we should be fined for red and yellow bands because they ain't got them on at practice. That's bulls--t. If you're going to report s--t, make sure it's f--king right."

The NFL and NFL Players Association continue to discuss the use of bands. Decisions to mark vaccinated and unvaccinated players with wrist bands are made on a team-by-team basis, though the NFLPA believes the practice is "unnecessary," per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

According to ESPN's Jenna Laine, each of Tampa Bay's first three practices open to media have taken place outdoors, where wristbands are not required:

"The league does mandate that teams must have some sort of system for identifying vaccinated and unvaccinated players since the rules for each group vary significantly in terms of physical distancing in the weight room and the use of showers and cold tubs, as well as entering the facility. The Bucs chose to go with the wristband system but the system is only required inside the facility."
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The NFL has taken a stronger stance on health and safety protocols this season, announcing that teams who experience a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players during the season will be subject to a forfeit if the game cannot be rescheduled. Additionally, if a game is canceled, neither team's players will receive their weekly salary, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

That's placed a significant onus on players and teams to follow health and safety guidelines, especially for those who remain unvaccinated. Arians understands this and took issue with unspecified reporting that he thought made it seem like his club was trying to flout newly established rules.

The coach said that simply was not the case.

"We've known these rules for a while," Arians said. "Our guys are doing everything they're supposed to be doing. I just get pissed when somebody reports that we're not."

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