BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley is not happy with the NFL and NFLPA’s newly agreed-to COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason, and he aired his concerns Thursday on Twitter.
The latest COVID-19 policy heavily restricts unvaccinated players while allowing vaccinated players to return to near normalcy.
Beasley, 32, placed equal blame on the NFL for prioritizing money over its players’ freedom and the NFLPA for not supporting the players it represents.
“This is crazy. Did we vote on this?” he wrote in response to the list of protocols. “I stay in the hotel. We still have meetings. We will all be together. Vaccinated players can go out the hotel and bring covid back in to where I am. So what does it matter if I stay in the hotel now? 100 percent immune with vaccination? No.
“The players association is a joke. Call it something different. It’s not for the players,” he added. “Everyone gives me the 98 percent of people who are vaccinated don’t get covid again. The odds of me getting in the NFL and playing for 10 years are lower than that and I’m here.”
The notable differences in the new policy include no daily testing for vaccinated players, who will also no longer be required to wear masks at the team’s facility or during team travel. Vaccinated players will also have no travel restrictions, can use the sauna/steam room and weight room without capacity limits, and can interact with vaccinated friends and family during team travel.
Unvaccinated players will be required to test for COVID-19 every day and must wear masks throughout the team facility and during travel. They will also not be allowed to use the sauna/steam rooms, are subject to weight room capacity limits, and may not leave the team hotel to eat in restaurants or interact with anyone outside of the team traveling party during team travel.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sets of protocols — unvaccinated players will be required to quarantine after high-risk exposure to COVID-19, while vaccinated players will not.
“So what are we really talking about? I understand completely why the NFL is doing this,” Beasley wrote. “It gives them back the freedom to make the most money as possible again if everyone is vaccinated. But will anyone fight for the players or nah?”
Beasley also responded to a CNN story in May about vaccinated people no longer needing to wear a mask outdoors, saying, “I do that without being vaccinated. Is this illegal now?”
COVID-19 vaccinations have been a controversial topic throughout the NFL and specifically within the Bills organization. Last month, general manager Brandon Beane was contacted by the NFL after responding to a hypothetical scenario during a radio interview, in which he said he would cut an unvaccinated player to return his team to normalcy.
Quarterback Josh Allen, during a podcast appearance in March, said he was still undecided about whether he would get the vaccine, saying he would do what the statistics told him was the right move. He declined to disclose his vaccination status or comment on it any further during a call with local reporters after a Bills offseason practice.
In May, Bills coach Sean McDermott said he was “concerned” about the divisive nature of the COVID-19 vaccine and the impact it could have on the team, but asked about it Tuesday, he said the Bills were “moving in the right direction.” Both Beane and McDermott are vaccinated, with the latter making it clear he wanted to see his players do the same.
“We’re trying to do our best to educate, build awareness, but at the end of the day, the players that you’re referring to have to make their own decision,” he said. “We feel like we know that in our country and around the league where and how things are improving. And to me, there’s a direct correlation to people getting vaccinated. Again, I would like to continue to see our team move in that direction. Continue to move an increased number of people that are getting vaccinated.
“I certainly respect everyone’s position. That being said, that’s really where I’m at and where we’re at. It’s good to have the guys here. But I think the reality of our situation is that now — but also for sure come the fall — training camp protocols are going to continue to be enforced, in particular for those who are unvaccinated as it relates to the masking and the different things that are in place. Just trying to be real about it and make sure people understand what normal is gonna look like, in particular for those who are unvaccinated come the fall.”
Beasley is entering his third season with the Bills after registering 82 catches for 967 yards in 2020 — both career highs. The stretch he put together in Buffalo is statistically the best two-year stretch of his 10-year career.