Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer’s comments that they took into account the vaccination status of players when making roster cuts did not go over well with the NFL, and an investigation will be launched, according to ESPN.
On Tuesday, Meyer said that along with general manager Trent Baalke, they took into account the vaccination status of the players to make the final roster because the unvaccinated have stricter COVID protocols than the vaccinated.
The coach said everyone was considered and clarified, “That was part of the production, let’s start talking about this, and also is he vaccinated or not? Can I say that that was a decision-maker? It was certainly in consideration.”
Because of these comments, the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) deputy executive director of external affairs, George Atallah, said in an email sent to ESPN, that these statements by Meyer have led them to initiate an investigation.
In turn, the Jaguars clarified, through a statement, that they did not cut any player because of his vaccination status and that decisions are based on the players’ abilities to help the team win.
Meyer also said that while the decision to vaccinate or not is a personal one, they tried early on to educate players to get vaccinated, but admitted that an unvaccinated player could affect the team’s chances of winning because of the stricter protocols they have to go through.
According to the NFL’s COVID protocols, unvaccinated players will have to take daily COVID tests, and if they test positive they must spend 10 days in quarantine and have a 3-day return to play protocol. Unvaccinated players considered high-risk contacts must take a COVID test immediately. Even if they test negative, they must be absent for 5 days and only return on the sixth day. If they test positive, they must complete the 10 days of quarantine and the 3 days to return to play.
On the other hand, vaccinated players must take COVID tests once a week and those who test positive must take the 10-day quarantine or if they have two negative tests, separated by 24 hours, they may return earlier.
In turn, vaccinees are not considered high-risk contacts but if they were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID, they must use masks in the facility and be tested daily for five days after exposure.
The coach cited the example of Josh Allen, who is a very important player defensively for the team.
Allen did not disclose his vaccination status and, on Aug. 23, was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list without having had COVID, and this Tuesday, Aug. 30, he was removed. He missed the last two preseason games and gave interviews while wearing a facemask.
“He’s not played in two weeks. So, he’s never had COVID. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but he’s never had COVID. So that’s pretty punitive,” Meyer said.
Now it remains to be seen what the investigation by the NFL Players Association will turn up and whether the club will receive any sanctions.