NFLPA President Tretter: Teams Trying to 'Shame' Unvaccinated Players with Wristbands

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 29, 2021

Cleveland Browns offensive linemen JC Tretter (64) smiles during an NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
AP Photo/David Dermer

Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA President JC Tretter believes that the NFL is trying to shame players who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine by implementing a wristband system as training camps started leaguewide this week.

ESPN's Jake Trotter relayed quotes from Tretter, who spoke with reporters Thursday.

"It's a nonsensical idea. They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it's not necessary and the teams know who's vaccinated, who's not vaccinated."

On July 16, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio relayed a memo the NFL sent to all 32 teams mandating them to visually distinguish between fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees at team's facilities and everyone else. Players fall into Tier 1.

“We recommend utilizing color coded wristbands or credentials, however clubs are free to implement other methods,” the memo said, per Florio.

Tretter is not in favor of the idea.

"So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field. It shouldn't be the case because it's unnecessary. We all know who's vaccinated and who's not, and it doesn't need to be a scarlet marking on people's helmets or wrists."

Some teams have opted into the NFL's plan, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have given yellow wristbands to unvaccinated players.

Others have not, including Tretter's Browns.

“We’re not dividing the team over this issue,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said, per the Associated Press' Tom Withers.

The NFL recently came out with strict penalties and restrictions for COVID-19 violations. Most notably, teams could be on the hook for forfeits and missed game checks due to COVID-19 outbreaks, per a memo relayed from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Here’s more from today’s memo, which also says the team responsible for a canceled game because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff will be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner. Wow. <a href="https://t.co/Q86a2WcG1K">pic.twitter.com/Q86a2WcG1K</a>

Brian McCarthy, the NFL's Vice President of Communications, relayed the latest vaccination numbers for the league.

Brian McCarthy @NFLprguy

For those who have been asking ... 87.9% of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFL</a> players overall are vaccinated (at least one shot); 19 clubs have more than 90% players vaccinated; 7 clubs have more than 95% vaccinated <a href="https://t.co/irk8jO15jO">https://t.co/irk8jO15jO</a>

The NFL regular season is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 9. Preseason will start with the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 5.


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