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NFL in clash with players’ union over push for Covid vaccination mandate ahead of new season

NFL in clash with players’ union over push for Covid vaccination mandate ahead of new season
A vaccination mandate for all players proposed by the NFL ahead of the new season has already been opposed by the Players' Association, the league's deputy general counsel has revealed.

League chief Larry Ferazani said that he didn't know why union president and Browns center JC Tretter had earlier claimed that the league had never requested the mandate.

"We would love to see that mandate go into effect tomorrow," Ferazani told The Athletic, while adding that the players' association has pushed to make a return to Covid testing for all players at the same time the league proposed vaccinated players being tested just once a week.

Vaccinated players are currently only tested every fortnight, while unvaccinated players receive daily tests.

NFL chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills claims that near to 93 percent of NFL players are vaccinated, with coaches and staff higher at 99 percent.

Since training camp began ahead of the 2021 season, 68 confirmed positive cases have been recorded, with an incidence rate seven times higher among the unvaccinated as opposed to the vaccinated.

There is a 2.2 percent incidence rate among unvaccinated compared to 0.3 percent across vaccinated players.

Multiple franchises including the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans have recently experienced what have been defined by Sills as "clusters"which prompted the league to mandate the use of masks for all players including those already vaccinated.

Last month, the league explained in a memo how teams with COVID-19 outbreaks would be made to forfeit games if they can't reschedule during the regular 18-week schedule.

Also on rt.com ‘I’m pro-choice’: NFL star Cole Beasley defends vaccine stance as debate around ‘mandatory’ jabs erupts

It is unclear whether failure to comply with a vaccine mandate, if imposed, could cost an NFL player his job.

One NFL writer from The Athletic says that the association "will be watching this part very closely", with union leaders believing "they have built in employment protections for unvaccinated players so they cannot be cut because of their vaccination status".

"It would be naive to believe vaccination status won't be part of [what] the calculus teams are doing when considering which bottom-of-the-roster players to keep, but it could be difficult to prove," they added.

Unvaccinated, uncuttable players who are in secure employment and have been vocal on the subject include Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley.

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