Ron Rivera Issues Warning to WFT After 6 Players Placed on COVID-19 List

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 31, 2021

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - JULY 29: Head Coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team watches his team during training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Football Team training center park on July 29, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Washington Football Team has six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including guard Brandon Scherff and reserve tackle David Sharpe, who were both placed on the list Saturday. 

Head coach Ron Rivera issued his team—which ranks 31st in the NFL with a vaccination rate at just over 70 percent—a warning: Were Washington in the first week of the regular season, those two players would miss two games under the NFL's coronavirus protocols, since Washington's Week 2 matchup falls on a Thursday, per John Keim of ESPN. Players on the reserve/COVID-19 list are out of action for a minimum of five days. 

"Those guys would not be eligible, so, to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are, and I hope it helps," Rivera told reporters. "But these young men have to make their decisions."

Rivera said that he's helped some players set up vaccine appointments for Washington's off day on Sunday. 

"There is some deep thought going on from some of these guys," Rivera said. "It's a matter of these guys being educated and understanding, because it's fair when you sit down and talk to these guys and listen to them and listen to their true concerns. Some guys just don't know, and I've gotten a sense that there are a few who are dug in so hard, so much that they're not going to back down. That's the part to me that's concerning because I care about all these guys. You do worry that somebody might catch it and go home and pass it on to a family member."

Rivera, who is immunodeficient after being treated for skin cancer last year, told reporters earlier in the week he was "beyond frustrated" with his team's low vaccination rate. 

"I think just making the statement that I'm immune deficient hopefully is part of their conversation, part of their thought process," he said. "It's a personal thing, but we can sway them hopefully."

Keim reported 89.4 percent of NFL players are vaccinated, with 22 teams believed to have over 90 percent of players vaccinated and nine teams at 95 percent vaccinated. Only one team has less than 70 players vaccinated. 

The NFL has incentivized players being vaccinated by imposing far stricter rules on those who remain unvaccinated:

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>

The NFL also wrote in a memo earlier in July that if a game "cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest." 

The forfeiting team would be given a loss and could potentially face further discipline from commissioner Roger Goodell, "particularly if the COVID outbreak is reasonably determined to be the result of a failure by club personnel to follow applicable protocols."

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention has ruled COVID-19 vaccines "safe and effective."