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Coaches and General Managers will have a dilemma when crafting their rosters in 2021. They want players to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but they can’t make roster decisions based on whether a player has been vaccinated.
Here’s the simple reality: When the time comes to make those decisions, players on the bubble will have a better chance of sticking around if they’ve gotten stuck. As long as coaches and executives don’t admit it, it will be virtually impossible to prove that vaccination status helped get a guy cut.
In Seattle, coach Pete Carroll is trying to get all of his guys to get the vaccine before the start of training camp.
“I’ve been in the conversation since the whole vaccination thing gunned away, with the players; trying to educate them and introduce them to ways of looking at stuff in perspective for the guys that are in question and had questions,” Carroll told reporters on Thursday. “I don’t know what our numbers are. I made a pitch again today to our guys today so that they are aware that the time frame that is left from the summertime until before camp starts, that ideally we would like to get everyone vaccinated before we report to camp just to make it as safe as possible to everyone. I have had some conversations with guys. We brought in [Dr.] Vin Gupta, he came in here and talked to our guys about it and gave a really big pitch. We have had some opportunities for the families also to get vaccinated, just to keep the message alive and keep it moving. We have a ways to go but our goal is to get everyone vaccinated before we start them up.”
So, yes, Carroll (who at one point seemed to be a 9/11 Truther) is not an anti-vaxxer. He also claims that he won’t be anti-anti-vaxxer when the time comes to give out 53 jobs.
“It’s not going to be a personnel decision,” Carroll said as to whether players who don’t get vaccinated will be in danger of being released. “This is an individual’s decision to make. Sometimes it takes other elements to motivate you to do things. In this case we would like guys to do it for everyone around them as well as themselves, as well as their families. It’s not going to determine a guy making or not making the football team, but it does change your mentality, it does adjust how you’re thinking. There’s a freedom to it that is refreshing. There is a sense of confidence about it that supports your work and your interaction with the guys around you. We will do the best we can and it’s important that we get it done in all directions.”
It will be a tough needle to thread for teams throughout the league. Guided always by “the best interests” of the organization, it will be in a team’s best interests to have the highest possible concentration of vaccinated players. But they can’t technically cut players who aren’t vaccinated.
They technically can’t. As a practical matter, they will.