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Jalen Ramsey won’t pressure teammates to get vaccinated

The NFL reportedly will test vaccinated players and staff members more frequently than every 14 days and Mike Florio explains why this is the right move, given the escalation of COVID-19.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is trying to strike a balance between teammates who are vaccinated and teammates who aren’t vaccinated, presumably in the interests of having a proper sense of camaraderie within the confines of team. He first attempted to explain his viewpoint on social media on July 22. On Thursday, July 29, he addressed his approach during a session with reporters.

In a nutshell, Ramsey won’t pressure or judge teammates who choose not to be vaccinated.

“I’m not pro-vax or anti-vax at all,” Ramsey told reporters. “It’s a personal decision to me. The only reason I had tweeted something about it was because one of my friends had said, if you don’t get the vax now, then you’re just a bad teammate and I just quote tweeted it. My point of the tweet was to say, I won’t think that you’re a bad teammate because of your personal decision, whether you get it or not. I don’t look at it like that. You know what I mean?

“I think it’s not fair fully, but just because on one end there’s if you’re vaccinated, you [are] only tested once every 14 days. If you’re not vaccinated, it’s every day. Yes, it’s less likely, but it’s still possible that you could get COVID and then in those 14 days, you never know if you can get it and then you could spread to somebody. Then just like how lenient the rules are. I don’t know, to me, I was thinking like, if I have Player A, who was a vaccinated player and he has no restrictions and he [is] kind of a wild guy out and about all the time. And then I got Player B, who’s not vaccinated, but he’s a good guy, a chill guy, stays at home all the time, follows all the rules, wears his mask, do all the good stuff right. I feel like in that instance, even though the vaccinated guy is ‘less likely’ to get COVID, I think the guy who’s probably just chilling inside doing everything right, other than the guy who was vaccinated and [is] out wildling, it probably equals out, in my mind. I might be wrong. I don’t know this stuff. That’s not my field. I’m not saying I know it or anything. So, I really don’t want to get into it, but I really don’t have an opinion about it. I hope none of my teammates get fined $15,000 for anything. I think that’s ridiculous. Just that number, but I don’t think any of my teammates are bad teammates because it’s their personal decision. That’s it. I hope that answered like any of those types of questions.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in what may come off as meandering by Jalen Ramsey. Given that vaccinated players can still get it and spread it, maybe the notion that vaccinated players are ready to party like it’s 2019 should be revisited. While those players definitely are protected from serious illness or death, they can still bring it into the building and spread it -- especially if they’re not tested as frequently as unvaccinated teammates.

It’s still better for all players to get vaccinated, and the NFL and NFL Players Association would be wise to find a way to work together cooperatively and creatively to find a way to get all players the answers they need to fully understand the benefits of getting vaccinated and the risks associated with not getting vaccinated. It’s not too late to do it. Carrots and sticks have only gotten the league so far; another approach will be needed to get the remaining players who are reluctant to get vaccinated to do what everyone should do.

From the league’s perspective, it’s also important to realize that simply getting everyone vaccinated won’t guarantee a 2021 season that includes all 272 regular-season games being played. The virus can still rip through locker rooms, especially if vaccinated players and staff are out and about, catching it, bringing it to the facility or the plane or the locker room, and spreading it.