There are two big stories around the NFL right now. I find it curious that no one – literally no one – in the sports media has suggested a possible connection between them:
NFL teams can’t force players to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but they can make life difficult for unvaccinated players. And they will.
The latest example comes from Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that he will fine any unvaccinated player $14,000 on the spot any time he is not wearing a mask where he is supposed to be, or is otherwise breaking any of the NFL’s protocols for unvaccinated players. Arians said there will be no warnings, just fines every time.
Arians also noted that unvaccinated players are tested every day and vaccinated players are tested only once every other week, and that will make life a lot less convenient for the unvaccinated.
“A vaccinated player will get tested 14 times this year,” Arians said. “An unvaccinated player will get tested 140.”
Arians also said he believes the Buccaneers’ vaccination rate will more than 85 percent by final cutdowns — which could be viewed as a thinly veiled threat to the players on the roster bubble that they’ll be gone before the 53-man roster is set if they aren’t vaccinated.
So while it’s true that teams can’t force players to get vaccinated, teams can make life so difficult that it probably won’t be feasible to remain unvaccinated for anyone but the stars who are good enough not to get cut, and have enough guaranteed money in their contracts that they don’t care about $14,000 fines. That’s a pretty small minority of players in the NFL.
The other big story, from the very same site:
Sports books reportedly brace for an Aaron Rodgers retirement
Las Vegas usually knows what’s going on. On Aaron Rodgers, Las Vegas reportedly thinks it knows what he’ll be doing next week.
Via Bill Huber of SI.com, multiple sports books believe Rodgers will announce his retirement before Wednesday’s initial practice of training camp. Per Huber, Westgate Superbook has “closed all its NFC North markets, including projected wins, playoff odds, divisional odds and weekly lines for the four division teams.”
PointsBet sports book, which not long ago put the Green Bay over-under win total back on the board at nine, has once again removed Green Bay from the list of 32 teams. DraftKings also has removed the Green Bay over-under win total, along with its Packers-related “Team Specials.” (The other 31 teams have them.)
As one source with knowledge of the dynamics of the Rodgers situation said in response to these developments, “Vegas oddsmakers tend to be pretty sharp.” The source added that a lot of scenarios are in play, and “many, many factors” will be relevant to the outcome.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the smartest players in the NFL. He’s very wealthy, he’s shown that he’s capable of finding great post-NFL success, and he’s engaged to a Hollywood actress. Is it really so implausible to suggest that one of the reasons he would rather retire than play is because he is unwilling to accept the elevated risk of heart attacks and strokes that the NFL is attempting to force on its players? We already know that one Vikings coach is willing to leave his job rather than get vaccinated.
Of course, this narrative would terrify the vaccine propagandists. Imagine if it becomes widely known that the reigning NFL MVP retired rather than get vaccinated…. About the only thing that would be worse for the vaxxers is Patrick Mahomes collapsing during a nationally televised game early in the season and dying of a heart attack.