Report: Some NFL Execs Believe Unvaccinated Players Shouldn't Be Paid on COVID List

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2021

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 12: Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Cole Beasley (11) walks to the locker room before the regular season game between the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 12, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Several team executives reportedly believe that unvaccinated players who miss games because of COVID-19 shouldn't receive game checks for those absences, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. 

That report comes in the wake of Cole Beasley, who has been vocal about his decision to remain unvaccinated and has faced multiple fines for violating the league's coronavirus protocols, missing Sunday's game after being put on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

Chris Mortensen @mortreport

The $14,600 fine has been doubled on more than one occasion via video monitoring by the league. One source estimated the $100,000 total sum, another source believed it was just short of that amount.

Chris Mortensen @mortreport

There are several team execs who believe it's one loophole that needs to be revisited for 2022, believing an unvaccinated player who lands of the Covid-19 reserve list should not be paid if he misses a game or games.<br>This is the first time Beasley has landed on the list.

It's hard to imagine the NFL Players Association ever agreeing to unvaccinated players forfeiting game checks for COVID-19-related absences. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has remained a major storyline for the NFL this season, especially in December as the omicron variant has entered the fray. The league had to postpone three games last week as a result of outbreaks on various teams.

Gregg Bell @gbellseattle

Missed this yesterday while flying back from LA: NFLPA president JC Tretter says the NFL wanted to cancel Seahawks-Rams, and neither team's players would have gotten paid. <br><br>Union put a stop to that, 3 games got postponed--and COVID testing went from mandatory to random. <a href="https://t.co/z4l7ZfgV1v">https://t.co/z4l7ZfgV1v</a>

That led the NFL to change its coronavirus protocols. Vaccinated players and coaches will no longer be tested weekly but now randomly, a result of two-thirds of positive test results around the league last week for players who were asymptomatic, per ESPN's Kevin Seifert.

The NFL, in turn, is asking vaccinated players and coaches to self-report any symptoms they may have so they can get tested. For players looking to avoid missing important games down the stretch, however, it's fair to question whether that honor system will hold up. 

Additionally, vaccinated coaches and players had to previously post two negative tests, 24 hours apart, before they were removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list. But the new protocols don't require a negative test and instead "there are now a series of new combinations of single negative tests and cycle threshold (CT) readings that can in theory have a player back as soon as one day after a positive test."

Unvaccinated players are still subject to daily testing, and if they test positive are still out for a minimum of 10 days.