Sports | July 30, 2021 1:31 pm

NFLPA President Criticizes Teams for Using Wristbands to Identify Unvaccinated Players

JC Tretter called it "a nonsensical idea" to differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated players

NFLPA president JC Tretter
NFLPA President JC Tretter on the field for the Cleveland Browns.
Nic Antaya/Getty

Speaking this week, JC Tretter called it “a nonsensical idea” that some NFL teams are using colored wristbands to differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated players and “shame” members of the team who don’t want to get the jab.

“We already have a differentiator,” Tretter, a center for the Cleveland Browns, said. “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. 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. 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.”

Multiple teams are requiring unvaccinated players to wear wristbands, but the Browns are not one of them.

According to NFL communications director Brian McCarthy, 87.9% of players have gotten at least one shot and 19 of the league’s 32 teams have more than 90% of players partially vaccinated. Seven are at more than 95%.

The NFL is not forcing its players to get the vaccine, but steep penalties have been put in place for teams that have outbreaks among unvaccinated players and the health protocols for teams with low vaccination rates are strict as well as annoying to abide by.

“The NFL has made it clear what they want to happen,” Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters on the first day of training camp. “If you don’t fall in line, they’re going to try and make your life miserable because of the protocol. I wouldn’t have gotten the vaccine without the protocols that they are enforcing on us. I think it’s a personal decision for each of us. They are trying to force our hands and ultimately have forced a lot of hands by the protocols. It is what it is.”

In addition to installing sanctions, the NFL has also urged teams to hold informational sessions to educate players on the benefits of receiving the vaccine and hosted vaccination clinics to make the vaccine available to players, coaches, staff and family members. With players now taking part in training camps across the country prior to starting their seasons, it appears as if those efforts have, mostly, worked.