Good luck finding homogeneity of opinion on any topic in an NFL locker room. So when it comes to whether players plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine now that it’s available, it isn’t surprising to find varying viewpoints.
Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone, a free-agent addition from New Orleans, already received the first of two injections and has an appointment to get his second early next month. Conferring with family members who work in medicine provided him the assurance it was the best decision for him.
“My dad’s a doctor, both of my brothers are doctors. They got fully vaccinated, I think back in like December,” Anzalone said Tuesday. “I don’t judge anyone for not getting vaccinated. Obviously, it would be nice to be part of the solution, but if you feel otherwise or there are risks, concerns or everything like that, which I understand as well.”
Among those not getting vaccinated is teammate Taylor Decker, who shared that plan but declined to elaborate on his specific reasoning.
“I did not get vaccinated and I’m not going to,” he said. “I’m just not going to speak to the reasons why. I have my reasons. I don’t know. It’s just such a hot-button topic. But, me personally, I just don’t feel like it’s the best thing for me, so I’m not going to do it.”
The NFL is not requiring players to be vaccinated ahead of the 2021 season, but Lions president Rod Wood said the team would focus on educating its employees and strongly encourage them to get it done. The team’s stadium, Ford Field, has been serving as a vaccination site for weeks.
“Together, with the players association, (we’re) doing everything we can to educate them on why it’s important and the safety measures that are in place with the vaccines,” Wood said. “Certainly, the goal is to encourage them to get vaccinated. It’s not going to be required, though. It’s a personal choice, but we’ll do everything we can to encourage them.”
Last year, the NFL required players to be tested daily for the virus and wear location trackers inside team facilities. With close contacts having to quarantine for five days, many players and coaching staffers missed games last season, but the NFL managed to play its full schedule without delaying the Super Bowl.
This year, the start of the offseason program is being conducted virtually, but there are plans to introduce in-person work in the coming months.