Unvaccinated players must mask up as part of the NFL protocol on COVID-related player safety. It’s the next step of demarcation ruffling the feathers of Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president.
Tretter said Thursday he is entirely against forcing unvaccinated players to wear wristbands that denote vaccination status.
“It’s a nonsensical idea,” Tretter said. “They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated, who’s not vaccinated.”
The Browns are one of the NFL teams who opted not to have their unvaccinated players wear wristbands. The stipulation has not been agreed to by the NFLPA and NFL, which bargained over several other elements within the safety protocol.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he will not “divide the team over this issue” and Tretter plans to continue fighting to give players on other teams the option of removing the bands.
“So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted 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,” Tretter said. “It shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary. We all know who’s vaccinated and who’s not, and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on people’s helmets or wrists.”
The NFL said in a COVID-19 update on Thursday that 87.9 percent of players in training camps are vaccinated. Per the league, 19 teams have a vaccination rate over 90 percent.
The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Football Team remain among the least-vaccinated teams.