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NFL refutes NFLPA’s assertion the league never asked for vaccine mandate

Jerry Jones spoke up about how important it is for people to get vaccinated, emphasizing that Cowboys players "check 'I' at the door" when it comes to public health.

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter insinuated earlier this week that the NFL never sought a vaccine mandate for players. The Browns center added “it’s the NFL’s choice on the mandate.”

The NFL strongly denied that in a conference call, saying it has wanted and still wants mandatory vaccines for players. It is the NFLPA that has opposed the mandate, NFL deputy general counsel Larry Ferazani said.

“We saw that same quote. I honestly don’t understand where that came from,” Ferazani said. “We’ve been discussing with the Players Association mandatory vaccination from the start. In fact, as you recall, we took the lead and required staff and coaches to be vaccinated in order to have access to a player. Beginning at that point, we began banging the drum for what their experts also concede is the single greatest way that we can protect the players and the staff, which is to get to a 100 percent vaccination level. That was our request from that, and we would still love to see that mandate go into effect tomorrow.”

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said on the call that 93 percent of NFL players are vaccinated as of Wednesday. NFL coaches and staff are required by the NFL to be vaccinated to work in person with players.

“We still could improve, with the final 7 percent, and we would love to see that,” Ferazani said.

Perhaps it is semantics. Perhaps the NFL didn’t explicitly ask the union for mandatory vaccines, knowing the NFLPA would not agree to one. In any event, the NFL wants a mandatory vaccine. The union believes players should be vaccinated but won’t go as far as requiring vaccines.

NFL officials, who have a union, also do not have a vaccine mandate, Dawn Aponte, the NFL’s chief football administrative officer, confirmed on the call.