Sports | July 16, 2021 11:32 am

AP Source: With 73% of Players Vaccinated, 2 NFL Teams Have Vaccination Rate of Under 50%

We're less than two weeks away from the start of NFL training camps

NFL logo on the field during a game between the Patriots and Raiders. NFL players have a 73% vaccination rate.
Right now two NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the NFL and NFLPA agreed last month to put restrictions on unvaccinated players and greatly loosen restrictions for players who receive the jab during the upcoming season, Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley took to social to share that he did not plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to “live my one life like I want to regardless.”

“I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way … I’ll play for free this year to live life how I’ve lived it from day one. If I’m forced into retirement, so be it.”

Thankfully, for football fans and those of us who believe that getting the vaccine is a matter of public health, not a political or moral issue, Beasley appears to be a member of a vocal minority, at least amongst NFL fans.

Though two teams — Washington and Indianapolis — remain under 50% vaccinated less than two weeks from the start of training camp, about 73% of NFL players have been vaccinated, a person familiar with the vaccination rates told The Associated Press.

Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver have the highest vaccination rates in the league and are among 10 teams that have achieved a rate of at least 85%, per The AP. NFL reporter Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports that number is even higher.

If Volin’s figures are correct, more than one-third of the NFL’s 32 teams are over the 85% threshold and nearly three-fourths of the league’s players are at least halfway to being fully vaccinated.

That’s a great start, but the NFL had better hope those numbers continue to rise in order to avoid scheduling problems like those of Major League Baseball, which had to postpone Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees game due to COVID-19 concerns despite 86.5% of players receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and 23 of MLB’s 30 teams reaching the 85% vaccination threshold for players and other on-field personnel as of the end of June.

Since the league doesn’t plan to cancel any games this season, according to The AP’s source, the NFL and NFLPA would be wise to push back against comments like Beasley’s and make it clear to players, especially those on the bubble of making a roster, how important getting the vaccine could be.

In a league like the NFL, where the average career lasts fewer than four years, being on the field for every game is crucial in order to be able to cash in during what is likely a limited window of time. Missing games due to COVID-19 and then coming back in a potentially weakened state is no way to earn a big payday and the potential for that to happen to an unvaccinated player could be the difference between making the roster or a coach going with a player who got the jab.

That might not be enough to entice 32-year-old Beasley, who is entering his 10th season and has already made his money, but it should be enough to convince the multitudes of players who could lose out on their one chance at a big payday thanks to a bout of COVID-19.