joe judge giants covid
Syndication: The Record

NFL players can choose whether they want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who refuse it must follow extensive rules, though.

The NFL isn’t mandating the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of a 2021 season that may deal with some pandemic-related complications.

However, the league is highly incentivizing it, to the point where a team may need to forfeit a game if an outbreak among unvaccinated individuals initially cancels the matchup.

Players, including those of the New York Giants, have decisions to make regarding the reception of the vaccine (if they haven’t already made one).

Joe Judge remains straightforward about this.

“You really have three choices,” Judge told SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. “Get vaccinated and go live life, basically. Stay unvaccinated and follow the protocols. Or you can stay unvaccinated and choose not to be part of the league. That’s really the only three choices you have.

“When you identify those and give them all the information on what the protocols are, what they have to do on a daily basis, in the building at practice and away from the building, then they have to look at that and make a decision for themselves and decide: Is it worth it for them? And are they willing to do that?”

Vacchiano writes that Judge and his coaches are all fully vaccinated, and according to a Giants source close to Ralph, the team’s vaccination rate was “in line with the higher percentages” that the league reported last Friday. On that day, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills noted 80% of the league’s players had received at least one vaccine shot and nine teams had vaccination rates of at least 90%.

As of Monday, 83.6% of league players had received at least one shot and 10 teams had rates of 90% or higher, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Judge told Vacchiano his team’s vaccination rate had improved every day since this past spring.

Arguably the NFL’s largest move to incentivize getting the vaccine was made last week and coincides with the possibility of game forfeits. If a team was to forfeit due to an outbreak among unvaccinated individuals, that team’s players and the (previously scheduled) opponent’s players would lose out on their paragraph 5 salaries for the week.

The training camp protocols between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of players will also be significantly different. The latter group must socially distance themselves, wear masks at their respective team facilities, and undergo daily COVID-19 testing. The former group will obviously carry more general freedom and will not need to partake in daily testing.

If you’re in the unvaccinated group and wish for this upcoming season to work as close to flawlessly as possible, following the league’s protocols is crucial.

“Whenever a player has a choice to do something, whatever that may be, I want them to have all the information,” the Big Blue head coach said. “They have to make that choice. But they have to understand what the consequences that come with it are.

“The biggest thing is that if they choose not to get vaccinated, they have to follow all the protocols. The reality is that’s challenging but we’ll make sure they’re very educated on what they can and cannot do. And it’s my job as head coach to enforce those rules for everybody.

“So we’re not forcing them to do anything. They’ve got to make the choice. But they have to know what they’re choosing to do.”

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.