July 29, 2021
JC Tretter, the starting center for the Cleveland Browns and NFL Players Association’s president, blasted the league Thursday for allowing certain teams to force their players to wear colored wristbands to differentiate between those who have received a vaccine and those who haven’t, claiming the NFL is intent on publicity shaming unvaccinated players.
“It’s a nonsensical idea,” Tretter told reporters Thursday when asked about the wristband vaccination policy several clubs have employed.
Tretter argued that color-coded wristbands, which he characterized as a “scarlet marking,” were unnecessary because unvaccinated players need to wear masks, which effectively serves as a differentiator.
He went on to claim that “what it really comes down to” is the NFL wanting to “put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field.”
In a controversial memo released last Thursday, the NFL said teams would be “required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated” individuals.
While the league recommended utilizing “wristbands or credentials,” it noted that “clubs are free to implement other methods.”
Forbes reached out to the NFL league office for comment but has not yet heard back.
A week ago, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams, which ramped up pressure on players to get inoculated by declaring clubs that experience a Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players or staff will be forced to forfeit any game that can’t be rescheduled. League protocols dictate that vaccinated players enjoy privileges such as not having to wear face masks, while unvaccinated players are required to remain socially distanced from teammates. The league explained that it hoped the enhanced measures would protect the health of NFL personnel. Preventing outbreaks that could potentially lead to the cancelation of contests also protects the league’s financial interests. With training camps opening up nationwide over the past five days, several clubs have opted to use the wristband system. Vaccinated players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers have worn red wristbands during practices, while players who have not received their shot have worn yellow wristbands.
“No other sports leagues use any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband because they know it’s not necessary, and the teams know who’s vaccinated and not vaccinated,” Tretter said Thursday.
Cole Beasley, a slot receiver for the Buffalo Bills, has been outspoken in his opposition to Covid vaccines and protocols dating back to last season. “I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken,” he tweeted last month, declaring, “I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living.” Peaking with reporters on Wednesday, Beasley claimed information was “being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with.”
87.9%. That’s the number of NFL players that have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the league spokesman Brian McCarthy. Of the league’s 32 teams, 19 have more than 90% of their players vaccinated.