Urban Meyer continues to prove he’s in over his head with vaccination comments

As we discovered when the Patriots released Cam Newton on Tuesday morning, a player’s vaccination status is more likely than not a consideration when deciding whether to keep that player on the roster if that player is anywhere near the roster bubble. Of course, Bill Belichick didn’t come right out and say that about Newton, because he’s well aware that there’s an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA which stipulates that a player’s vaccination status can’t be a part of that decision. Whether it is or not, you don’t say it is. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, and all that.

Most NFL coaches understand this, which is why when pressed, they all say some variant of the same thing — vaccination is a player’s decision, it’s a personal decision, and it’s not up to the coach to interfere. Whether the coach believes it or not, and if you think any coach is happy about a COVID wave messing up his roster and his coaching staff, you are obviously mistaken.

Still, NFL coaches understand the game, and they play along. Unless that coach’s name is Urban Meyer.

On Tuesday afternoon, during a press conference in which he was going over the Jaguars’ decisions to get their roster down to the league-mandated 53, Jacksonville’s head coach came right out and said the quiet part out loud.

“Everyone was considered,” Meyer said, when asked if vaccinated players had more of a positive consideration. “That was part of the production, let’s start talking about this, and then also is he vaccinated or not. Can I say that that was a decision maker? It was certainly in consideration.”

Later in the press conference, when asked about the NFL’s disciplinary measures for unvaccinated players, Meyer doubled down in the case of edge-rusher Josh Allen.

“Josh Allen’s never had it and he’s not played in two weeks. He’s never had COVID. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but he’s never had COVID. So, that’s pretty punitive.”

If you don’t know whether you’re allowed to say it, coach… don’t say it.

As to whether Meyer and his staff thought about vaccination status as a tiebreaker? Well, of course they did. Every team does. But again, you don’t say it, because you then run afoul of the NFLPA. Which Meyer has now done.

So, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has already been called on the carpet about this, which makes Meyer’s mishandling of this situation even weirder.

Meyer, who is in his first year in the NFL after an estimable career in college that started in 1986 when he was a graduate assistant at Ohio State, doesn’t seem to understand that in the NFL, coaches are held accountable for their words and actions in ways that NCAA coaches simply aren’t.

This is the same Urban Meyer who tried to hire former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle back in February, despite Doyle’s long and well-documented history of racist behavior.

“Yeah, I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,” Meyer said by way of explanation. “Our relationship goes back to when I was at Utah and he was the No. 1 strength coach, and really he was doing sports performance before sports performance became a high priority in college sports, and so I’ve known him, I’ve studied him, we’ve had a relationship.

“I vetted him thoroughly, along with our general manager and owner. I feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position.”

When Meyer was asked if he made that call with any hesitation or additional research? Well…

“I vet everyone on our staff, and the relationship goes back close to 20 years, and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff, but we did a very good job vetting that one.”

Vet, vet, vet. Well, the vetting didn’t work out, as Doyle resigned soon after.

“Chris Doyle came to us this evening to submit his resignation and we have accepted,” coach Urban Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke said in a joint statement, which was amended to include Baalke’s name after the team said it had been inadvertently left off. “Chris did not want to be a distraction to what we are building in Jacksonville. We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in retrospect, should have given greater consideration to how his appointment may have affected all involved. We wish him the best as he moves forward in his career.”

Frankly, we’re surprised the statement wasn’t issued in Comic Sans.

Meyer was a highly successful head coach in college, but he also left behind a litany of scandals he was able to push through for the most part because he was highly successful, and because most of the media covering him couldn’t get past deifying him for whatever reason.

The NFL is different, as many college coaches have discovered. Players aren’t unionized at that level, and media knows exactly where the power lies, which is why coaches and athletic directors are given free passes all the time for their behavior.

So, this is the latest mistake in less than a year for Urban Meyer at the NFL level, and one for which he may be held accountable. That will be a new sensation for him, and he should do his best to pay attention to the feeling if he wants to have a hope of succeeding at the NFL level.