Titans QB Ryan Tannehill reluctantly gets COVID-19 vaccine because the NFL ‘forced’ his hand

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t want the COVID-19 vaccine, but says he’s getting it because the NFL ‘forced his hand’ with protocols that would have made his life ‘miserable’ otherwise. 

‘I’m currently in the [vaccination] process right now,’ Tannehill told reporters after Thursday’s training camp practice.’The NFL has kind of made it clear what they want to happen. If you don’t fall in line, they’re going to make your life miserable with all the protocols.

‘It is what it is,’ he continued. ‘I love this game. I love this team. I want to be able to compete and do the things I think are important to build chemistry and win football games. Ultimately, that forced my hand into getting the vaccine.’ 

NFL players are only encouraged to get the vaccine, while all Tier 1 and 2 personnel, which includes coaches, are required to get the injection.

The protocols for unvaccinated players remain the same as they were for everyone during the 2020 season. The difference now, since the release of several vaccines, is that players who have gotten the injections are free from certain testing, distancing, and mask protocols.  

Unvaccinated players, however, will need to distance, wear masks, and get daily tests.

The NFL announced Thursday that 87.8 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 19 teams have at least 90 percent of players vaccinated.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t want the COVID-19 vaccine, but says he’s getting it because the NFL ‘forced his hand’ with protocols that would have made his life ‘miserable’ otherwise

The NFL and NFLPA detailed new protocols for vaccinated players in another recent memo

The NFL and NFLPA detailed new protocols for vaccinated players in another recent memo 

In a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell's office earlier this month, the league noted that teams had inquired about best practices for monitoring protocol compliance at the facility, particularly given the protocol modifications for fully vaccinated individuals

In a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell’s office earlier this month, the league noted that teams had inquired about best practices for monitoring protocol compliance at the facility, particularly given the protocol modifications for fully vaccinated individuals

Cleveland Browns center and NFL Players Association president JC Tretter feels the NFL is trying to shame players by urging teams to require vaccinated and unvaccinated players to wear different colored wristbands.

He called the idea ‘nonsensical.’

Tretter, who took office last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages, said Thursday he’s thankful the Browns didn’t adopt the wristband policy and he blasted the league for some other measures.

A masked Titans fan during a 2020 game

A masked Titans fan during a 2020 game 

The union President said it’s easy to identify who isn’t vaccinated because those choosing not to get the shots are required masks and follow other protocols.

‘They say they need a differentiator between unvaccinated and vaccinated players, we already have a differentiator,’ said Tretter, who has not revealed if he’s vaccinated or not.

‘The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports leagues use any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated and not vaccinated.’

But the NFL explains the wristband policy is designed to help the club or the league more easily identify if a player who is not vaccinated was not wearing a mask.

In a memo sent earlier this month to the 32 franchises, the league noted that several teams had inquired about best practices for monitoring protocol compliance at the facility, particularly given the protocol modifications for fully vaccinated individuals.

‘Please note that beginning at the start of training camp,’ the memo said, ‘clubs will be required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. We recommend utilizing color coded wristbands or credentials, however, clubs are free to implement other methods.’

NFL players are only encouraged to get the vaccine, while all Tier 1 and 2 personnel, which includes coaches, are required to get the injection. The protocols for unvaccinated players remain the same as they were for everyone during the 2020 season. The difference now, since the release of the vaccines, is that players who have gotten the injections are free from certain testing, distancing, and mask protocols. Unvaccinated players, however, will need to distance, wear masks, and get daily tests. The NFL announced Thursday that 87.8 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 19 teams have at least 90 percent of players vaccinated. In this shot, masked Titans coach Mike Vrabel is seen during a 2020 game

NFL players are only encouraged to get the vaccine, while all Tier 1 and 2 personnel, which includes coaches, are required to get the injection. The protocols for unvaccinated players remain the same as they were for everyone during the 2020 season. The difference now, since the release of the vaccines, is that players who have gotten the injections are free from certain testing, distancing, and mask protocols. Unvaccinated players, however, will need to distance, wear masks, and get daily tests. The NFL announced Thursday that 87.8 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 19 teams have at least 90 percent of players vaccinated. In this shot, masked Titans coach Mike Vrabel is seen during a 2020 game

Tier 1 and Tier 2 covers team personnel who have direct contact with players.

Tretter feels the league wanted to guilt players into getting the vaccine.

‘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 everybody on the field, and that shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary,’ he said. ‘We all know who’s vaccinated, who’s not and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on peoples’ helmets or wrists.’

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said the team decided against the wristbands, which are being worn at some other training camps.

‘We’re not dividing the team over this issue,’ Stefanski said.

Cleveland Browns center and NFL Players Association president JC Tretter feels the NFL is trying to shame players by urging teams to require vaccinated and unvaccinated players to wear different colored wristbands

Cleveland Browns center and NFL Players Association president JC Tretter feels the NFL is trying to shame players by urging teams to require vaccinated and unvaccinated players to wear different colored wristbands

Tretter was previously critical about the league recently issuing a memo telling teams that if there is a virus outbreak among unvaccinated players, games will be forfeited and players will not be paid. The NFLPA said when that policy was announced that ‘the same basic rules applied last year.’

‘The only difference this year is the NFL’s decision to impose additional penalties on clubs which are responsible for the outbreak and the availability of proven vaccines,’ the NFLPA told its members in an email. ‘The protocols we jointly agreed to helped get us through a full season last year without missing game checks and are effective, when followed.’

Tretter said with cases increasing in some areas around the country due to the Delta variant, it’s essential for the league and union to cooperate.

‘Last year it wasn’t perfect, but we worked well together because we needed to and because we needed everybody to buy in and do the right things in order to get through a season,’ Tretter said. ‘This year, this is not going to be easy again. We’re going to need to really rely on a lot of things we did last year and that continues with meeting the protocols but also the way we worked together.

‘We don’t want to lose checks, we want to keep people healthy, they don’t want to lose revenue and they want to keep people healthy. So we have the same goals, it’s about executing that.’

The NFL announced Thursday that 87.8 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 19 teams have at least 90 percent of players vaccinated

The NFL announced Thursday that 87.8 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 19 teams have at least 90 percent of players vaccinated

Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison will remain with the team in a new role despite his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in violation of NFL rules

Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison will remain with the team in a new role despite his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in violation of NFL rules

While players are only encouraged – and not required – to get vaccinated, coaches, scouts, equipment managers and team executives must be fully vaccinated in order to work in the NFL.

That was a problem with the Vikings this week after offensive line coach Rick Dennison was reportedly on his way out of Minnesota after refusing to to be vaccinated.

ESPN reported Friday that Dennison, an offensive line coach and running game coordinator, stepped down, becoming the first position coach to leave a team because of vaccine guidelines.

The team, however, told DailyMail.com that Dennison remained an employee.

The two sides found a compromise on Tuesday, when the team announced that Dennison would serve as an offensive advisor this season.

For now, all of his collaboration with the staff must be virtual. He’ll help the other offensive assistants evaluate players and devise game plans, as in the past, but he won’t be able to have the hands-on work with the offensive linemen he’s drawn praise for throughout his years in the NFL.

The New England Patriots and assistant Cole Popovich could not come to a similar agreement, and the co-offensive line coach will be leaving the team over the NFL’s vaccination policy, according to multiple reports.

The New England Patriots and assistant Cole Popovich (pictured) could not come to a compromise and the co-offensive line coach will be leaving the team over the NFL's vaccination policy, according to multiple reports

The New England Patriots and assistant Cole Popovich (pictured) could not come to a compromise and the co-offensive line coach will be leaving the team over the NFL’s vaccination policy, according to multiple reports

There have been several vaccine holdouts among players, including Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who continued his crusade against league vaccination policies as camp opened on Wednesday.

Beasley opened his news conference by reading from a prepared statement for 2 minutes, 30 seconds, then asked reporters to stick to football questions. Shortly afterward he released a new rap song in which he says there ‘ain’t a vaccination’ for him.

The song called into question the sincerity of Beasley’s statement, adding more fuel to the fire in what’s been a tumultuous few months for Beasley and the Bills regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

‘I’m not anti- or pro-vax. I’m pro choice,’ Beasley said in his statement. ‘With that being said, the issue at hand is information being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with. When dealing with a player’s health and safety, there should be complete transparency regarding information that is vital in the decision-making process.’

In his statement, Beasley repeatedly referred to a lack of transparency and information — while the Bills have said that they have done everything they can to educate their players about vaccinations. Coach Sean McDermott has spoken at length about his desire to see his players vaccinated.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and receiver Cole Beasley (11) talk during NFL football training camp in Orchard Park, New York , Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and receiver Cole Beasley (11) talk during NFL football training camp in Orchard Park, New York , Wednesday, July 28, 2021

General manager Brandon Beane said that just over 80 percent of Bills players have received at least one vaccine dose.

‘We’ve had an uptick of guys that have at least got one shot. So we’ll continue to educate,’ Beane said. ‘At the end of the day, we’re not going to force it on any of our players or any of our staff. That’s a personal decision. And that’s how the organization will handle it going forward.’

The NFL Players Association has supported league COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, vaccinations have been a hot-button topic for the Bills, with players changing messages and speaking out publicly on social media as developments happen.

Earlier this offseason, Beasley threatened to retire after the NFL and NFLPA announced new rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. Recently Beasley and defensive end Jerry Hughes had an exchange on Twitter about their differing vaccine views, which came after players repeatedly voiced their preference to keep things ‘in house’ when faced with vaccine questions during news conferences.

Beasley and quarterback Josh Allen downplayed the exchange with Hughes, saying it was a typical locker-room discussion between teammates.

‘I think it was a little blown out of proportion,’ Allen said. ‘Jerry and Cole, they spend so much time around each other … honestly you can’t really take emotions from tweets or texts on a screen. I think it was more of a friendly conversation and people kind of took it and ran with it.’

Beasley concurred.

‘Me and Jerry are brothers,’ Beasley said. ‘We had a conversation on the phone immediately after, we talked it through, and we weren’t mad at each other, we’re just talking to each other. A lot of things can be taken out of context and in the wrong way in social media because people are going to do what they do with it. Jerry’s one of the guys that I’ll run through a wall for.’

Earlier this offseason, Beasley (pictured Wednesday) threatened to retire after the NFL and NFLPA announced new rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. Recently Beasley and defensive end Jerry Hughes had an exchange on Twitter about their differing vaccine views, which came after players repeatedly voiced their preference to keep things 'in house' when faced with vaccine questions during news conferences

Earlier this offseason, Beasley (pictured Wednesday) threatened to retire after the NFL and NFLPA announced new rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. Recently Beasley and defensive end Jerry Hughes had an exchange on Twitter about their differing vaccine views, which came after players repeatedly voiced their preference to keep things ‘in house’ when faced with vaccine questions during news conferences 

Beasley has been a key member of a Bills offense that soared to new heights in 2020, making it to the AFC championship game. He’s considered one of the best slot receivers in the league and is coming off a year with career highs in receptions (82) and yards (967).

Allen, who finished second in MVP voting last year to Aaron Rodgers, said he does not believe the issue will divide the team or affect the players on the field.

‘Guys have different opinions, they have different thoughts, ideas,’ Allen said. ‘Again, everyone’s entitled to that. If guys want to get it, great. If guys don’t want to get it, great. Nobody looks at the guys who aren’t getting it as a distraction or not wanting to help this team win. Everybody’s in the same boat here. We’re all going with one heartbeat, and that’s helping the Buffalo Bills win football games and ultimately try to win a championship.’

‘At the end of the day we’re professionals. We’re going to do what our job entails and follow the rules and guidelines on both sides.’

COVID-19 is already impacting the NFL season. Former NFL Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time on Wednesday and consequently missed Baltimore’s first practice of training camp.

Jackson missed one game last season, in Week 12, when he first tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It’s not known if he’s been vaccinated since then, but if he hasn’t been, Jackson will need to quarantine for 10 days and test negative for COVID-19 before he can return.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Jackson’s positive test after practice Wednesday and said running back Gus Edwards also tested positive. He would not go into much more detail about either case or whether either player was vaccinated. 

Former NFL Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time and consequently missed Baltimore's first practice of training camp

Former NFL Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time and consequently missed Baltimore’s first practice of training camp

.