WTOP’s George Wallace will be at Washington Football Team’s training camp. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news out of training camp, and come back to WTOP News and WTOP.com for more updates.
While 80% of NFL players have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, the Washington Football Team opens training camp with one of the lowest rates in the league.
Head coach Ron Rivera addressed the situation in his first training camp press conference on Tuesday.
“We’re hopefully trending in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve had a few more guys get theirs. I believe we’re over 50%, so we’re trending in the right direction. We’re not where we want to be.
“A lot of guys have a lot of questions. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten the answers that they should have by now. We need to do a job of trying to make sure we can inform them and help them make an educated decision.”
Questions related to Washington’s vaccination numbers are not the kind Rivera would like to be answering as camp opens. The team has a lot of optimism coming off a NFC East title last season.
Washington was also one of the best in the league last year in fighting against COVID-19. However, considering Rivera fought cancer a year ago, its current predicament with vaccines doesn’t sit well with him.
“I’m truly frustrated. I’m beyond frustrated. Part of it is one of the reasons I walked in with a mask on is I’m immune-deficient,” he said.
Rivera said he knows he can’t force anyone to get vaccinated. However, he will continue to have individual conversations with players about the importance of receiving the vaccine and the possible consequences — not only to the player but also to the whole team.
In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, the NFL said teams forced to miss games due to an outbreak amongst unvaccinated players will forfeit and won’t receive their gameday checks.
It could also become a competitive disadvantage to a team with low vaccination rates like Washington if players are forced to be away for some time due to COVID-19 protocols. Another concern is creating a divide around the locker room between unvaccinated and vaccinated players.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Rivera said. “I hope we can get to these guys and get them to understand. Really, it’s not just for them, but it’s for the people around them, and that’s the thing; hopefully, that will get their attention. It’s not just about them but the folks around them.”
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