Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley read a prepared statement during a press conference on Tuesday in an attempt to clarify his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine and the NFL's rule disparities between vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
"I'm not anti- or pro-vax—I'm pro-choice," he read. "With that being said, the issue at hand is information being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with."
You can read his full statements below:
Beasley, 32, announced in June that he was not vaccinated:
He is one of several players who aren't happy with the NFL's decision to have different rules in training camp and the upcoming season for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
Kevin Seifert @SeifertESPN
As others have noted, the NFL/NFLPA have pulled together their various COVID-19 protocols for this summer. Boiled down, there are very few rules for vaccinated people, while many of the 2020 rules remain for those who are unvaccinated. Cheat sheet: <a href="https://t.co/0IPB8GP4xO">pic.twitter.com/0IPB8GP4xO</a>
Vaccinated players only have to undergo a COVID-19 test once every two weeks during training camp, for instance, while unvaccinated players are tested every day. Likewise, vaccinated players are allowed more freedom of movement during team travel and to complete sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with skin cancer last year and is now immunosuppressed, offered a different perspective on why he would like to see players on his team get vaccinated. He said the team was at over 50 percent vaccinations, though not where he wanted them to be.
"I'm not going to tell anybody what to do; I'm going to try to understand them and give them some reasons why I think it'll be a good thing," he told reporters. "We'll see how it goes. I hope we can get to these guys and get them to understand, really, it's not just for them, but it's for the people around them, and that's the thing, hopefully, that will get their attention."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 5,914 reported cases of vaccinated individuals with breakthrough COVID-19 cases that required hospitalization in the United States out of over 161 million U.S. citizens who have been vaccinated.
"Think of the vaccine as reducing your risk of getting infected in any given encounter by something like 90 percent," associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, David Dowdy, M.D., told Rachel Nania of AARP.com.
Additionally, there's evidence suggesting that vaccinated people who do happen to get the coronavirus will not be impacted as severely as unvaccinated people, or suffer from long-term side effects.
States with lower vaccination rates are also seeing the biggest spike in coronavirus cases in the past four weeks, according to Nigel Chiwaya of NBC News. The CDC has determined the vaccine is safe and effective, noting that serious side effects are extremely rare.
While the NFL can't mandate players be vaccinated—that would need to be collectively bargained between the league and NFLPA—it's clear the league is taking measures to incentivize players to get the vaccine, though players like Beasley aren't happy about it.