Jun 15, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs with the ball during minicamp at the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Bills WR Cole Beasley, DE Jerry Hughes debate vaccinations

Outspoken Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley is mixing it up with his teammates as he sticks to his stance of remaining unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Beasley has reiterated his beliefs about vaccination since the NFL announced Thursday that games could be forfeited this season if an outbreak is due to unvaccinated players.

Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes defended the new policy when former NFL safety Darius Butler called the NFL dead wrong and said the league didn’t conduct enough research.

“Sooo the top scientists in the entire world got together to figure out how to combat Covid-19. And when they came up with a vaccine, you question them. They are trying to save lives and you have doubt?” Hughes said.

Hughes also tweeted, “Some ppl have an underlying health conditions, so they are at risk if an outbreak happens.”

Beasley took issue with Hughes’ response.

“Jerry so if a vaccinated player gives an unvaccinated player with underlying conditions covid it’s cool though? And the player with underlying conditions gets blamed for it. From minority to the majority now the minorities don’t matter?” Beasley tweeted.

Replied Hughes: “”You would think someone with underlying health conditions Would get the vaccine to prevent future complications if they got Covid. Now I understand freedom of choice. But our job has put rules in place. Rules are rules.”

Buffalo receiver Emmanuel Sanders got vaccinated on Friday and displayed his card on Instagram. One of his lines may have been directed at Beasley.

“Accountability. Availability. Don’t have time to deal with no bs during the season. #Chasinggreatness,” Sanders said.

Pro Bowl wideout Stefon Diggs also got vaccinated since the NFL released the new policy.

Meanwhile, the Bills will hold their first training camp practice on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how the situation plays out.

Especially because Beasley has insisted he will not be softening his stance.

“I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken,” Beasley recently wrote. “I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is necessary to be a healthy individual.

“This is MY CHOICE based on MY experiences and what I think is best. I’ll play for free this year to live life how I’ve lived it from day one. If I’m forced into retirement, so be it.”

The 32-year-old Beasley is coming off a season in which he recorded career highs of 82 receptions and 967 yards. He also had four touchdown catches.

Overall, Beasley has 468 catches for 5,016 yards and 33 touchdowns in 133 games (42 starts) over nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (2012-18) and Bills.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the 3rd quarter of the Green Bay Packers 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Packers Rams 04644

Report: Las Vegas sportsbooks expect Aaron Rodgers to retire

Could Aaron Rodgers retire before the first Green Bay Packers’ training camp practice?

At least one Las Vegas sportsbook has a hunch such an announcement will occur, according to SI.com.

Westgate SuperBook has removed projected wins, playoff odds, division odds and weekly lines for all four NFC North teams, according to SI. The publication cited its information as coming from an oddsmaker at the sportsbook.

Rodgers hasn’t announced his plans, but the actions of Westgate and the feeling that other Vegas sportsbooks will follow in a similar manner have raised eyebrows.

Not to be overlooked is that Vegas oddsmakers have sources everywhere and often gain information well before the general public.

According to SI.com, multiple sportsbooks are in agreement that Rodgers will retire prior to Green Bay’s first practice on Wednesday. SI said one sportsbook lessened the odds of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to win MVP honors.

Also, Pro Football Talk reports that DraftKings and PointsBet have removed the Packers from over-under victories wagers.

None of the reports mention the potential of Rodgers continuing his holdout or being dealt to another team. Uncertainty surrounding either of those outcomes could also alter betting.

Rodgers has a base salary of $14.7 million for this season and would miss out on a $6.8 million roster bonus if he doesn’t report. The 37-year-old quarterback also would have to repay an $11.5 million signing bonus.

That puts a net $33 million in play per a Rodgers decision. That doesn’t include money in 2022 and 2023 when his base salaries are $25 million each season as part of the four-year, $134 million deal.

Rodgers has been in a rift with Packers’ upper management since the team drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Rodgers stepped up his play last season and won NFL MVP honors and hinted after the NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that he might be one of the players that wouldn’t be back in 2021.

His dispute with the Packers became more tense and more public throughout the offseason.

The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings are the other teams in the NFC North.

–Field Level Media

Jul 22, 2021; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during training camp practice at the Marriott Residence Inn. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: Vax status not ‘important’

Dak Prescott is off and running at training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, where he evaded questions Friday about his vaccination status.

The Cowboys are “making progress” toward team owner Jerry Jones’ goal of over 85 percent of the roster being fully vaccinated. Prescott was not as willing to talk about the COVID-19 immunization.

“I don’t necessarily think that’s exactly important,” Prescott said. “I think that’s HIPAA.”

HIPAA does not apply to individuals being asked to disclose their own personal health information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that restricts dissemination by third parties of any individual’s private medical information.

Ezekiel Elliott said this week he received the first of two doses as a commitment to being available to the Cowboys every week. Elliott tested positive for COVID-19 last year.

“I got the vaccine just because I wanted to put myself in the best situation to be out there for my team week in and week out,” Elliott said.

Prescott is moving without limitation and a full participant in practices, recovered from a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery and armed with a new long-term contract.

Jones said he appreciated former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin’s sentiment that players unwilling to be fully vaccinated were not fully committed to winning, labeling the message “outstanding.”

Prescott said in June — before the NFL clarified its vaccine policy, collectively bargained with the NFLPA — that he wouldn’t reveal his immunization status.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Jordan Whitehead (33) during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs place Jordan Whitehead on reserve/COVID-19 list

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put safety Jordan Whitehead on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

Multiple outlets reported that Whitehead was not present during the Buccaneers’ trip to the White House on Tuesday or the team’s ring ceremony two days later.

Whitehead, 24, played a large role in leading Tampa Bay to glory last season before undergoing shoulder surgery after Super Bowl LV.

He sustained a shoulder injury in the third quarter of the Buccaneers’ 31-26 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24.

Whitehead started all 16 games during the regular season and recorded 74 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

He has 219 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in 45 career games (41 starts) since being selected by the Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 3, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a Minnesota Vikings helmet during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Vikings OL coach Rick Dennison out after refusing vaccine

Veteran NFL assistant coach Rick Dennison has left his job with the Minnesota Vikings after refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, ESPN reported Friday.

Dennison, 63, had been offensive line coach/run game coordinator for two seasons. He is believed to be the first position coach to leave a team over vaccine regulation.

The NFL is requiring that all Tier 1 staff, which includes coaches, scouts, equipment managers and team executives, be fully vaccinated. Players do not have the same rule, but will be under restrictive COVID-19 protocols if they are unvaccinated.

ESPN said the Vikings promoted Dennison’s assistant, Phil Rauscher, to fill the vacated position and added Auburn special-teams analyst Ben Steele to the staff.

Dennison played nine seasons at linebacker for the Denver Broncos before beginning his coaching career in 1995 as a Broncos offensive analyst. He served as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Broncos, and designed the offense that Peyton Manning led to a victory in Super Bowl 50.

The Vikings report to training camp on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions former player Barry Sanders before the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State to add Barry Sanders to Ring of Honor

Oklahoma State will honor Barry Sanders with a spot in its Ring of Honor and a statue outside Boone Pickens Stadium.

He will take his place in the Ring of Honor on Nov. 13, when the Cowboys host TCU.

Sanders, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a stellar career with the Detroit Lions, was a starter for just one season at Oklahoma State.

In 1988, he ran for 2,850 yards — an average of 237.5 per game — and scored 44 touchdowns. He had four games with at least 300 yards rushing, and in one incredible three-game span, ran for a combined 937 yards and 13 touchdowns against Kansas, Iowa State and Texas Tech.

He went on to win the Heisman Trophy and earn unanimous All-America honors after the 1988 season, which was his third at Oklahoma State. He spent his first two seasons in Stillwater as the backup to another future Hall of Fame member, Thurman Thomas.

Sanders, 53, becomes just the second member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, following Thomas.

Sanders skipped his senior season and was selected No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1989 NFL Draft. In 10 seasons, he ran for 15,269 yards, which stands fourth all-time behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Frank Gore.

With the Lions, he scored 109 touchdowns — 99 rushing, 10 receiving — and was a 10-time Pro Bowl section and six-time First-Team All-Pro. Sanders was named MVP in 1997 when he led the NFL with 2,053 rushing yards and 2,358 yards from scrimmage.

–Field Level Media

Oct 26, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;   Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman (97) looks on from the sidelines against the Miami Hurricanes during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Miami won 16-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings rookie, shot 4 times last month, will report to camp

A month after being shot four times, Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman will report to training camp on Sunday.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the news in a text message to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Twyman, who turned 22 on Monday, was sitting in his vehicle in his hometown of Washington, D.C., on June 21 when he was wounded in a random shooting. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Three other people were shot during the incident and the suspect remains at large, according to the newspaper report.

“They were shooting at everyone, anyone that was outside,” his mother, Stephanie Twyman, told Washington TV station WRC-4 last month. “It was not a targeted shooting. They were shooting at everyone. It just so happens he was leaving his aunt’s house and he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Twyman described his injuries as a flesh wound.

A sixth-round pick (199th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft, Twyman opted out of his senior season at Pittsburgh in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

He registered 57 tackles and 11 sacks in two seasons, earning first-team All-ACC honors in 2019 after leading the Panthers with 10.5 sacks.

–Field Level Media

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, OH, USA; Rick Dermer, a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, points out his Terrible Towel Mask as he waits for potential draftees to appear on the Red Carpet at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before the first round of the 2021 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland.  Mandatory Credit: David Dermer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: 80 percent of players have had at least one vaccine dose

Eighty percent of all NFL players have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, the NFL announced Friday.

Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said nine teams are at 90 percent or higher and only five clubs are at less than 70 percent.

Most NFL training camps open next week, with the regular season kicking off on Sept. 9.

Teams that reach the 85 percent threshold will have fewer restrictions with team meetings and group gatherings.

The NFL issued a memo to all 32 teams Thursday informing them that games will not be rescheduled or postponed if a team has too many unvaccinated players unavailable to play due to COVID-19.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners fans cheer during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks  at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texas, Oklahoma to announce Big 12 exit soon

The announcement of a move by Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference — just a rumor a few days ago — is imminent, multiple outlets reported Friday.

The two traditional conference powers will inform the Big 12 on Monday that they won’t renew their grant of media rights deal that expires in 2025, Horns247 reported. Once that happens, the SEC can take steps to vote on adding the two universities, and that process “could move quickly,” per the report.

To leave the league, the schools each would owe at least $76 million, ESPN reported.

Texas and Oklahoma were founding members of the Big 12, and their departures will set off a ripple effect throughout the conference. Reports Friday indicated Kansas is seeking to join the Big Ten.

Officials from Big 12 schools, not including Texas and Oklahoma, held a conference call Thursday night to talk about the league’s future. An ESPN report indicated the league could reach out to other Power Five programs to assess their interest in joining, or see if Group of Five schools such as Houston, Cincinnati or UCF might want a spot in the Big 12.

The Big 12’s charter members were Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Membership dropped to eight with the departures of Nebraska (Big Ten), Colorado (Pac-12) and Missouri and Texas A&M (SEC).

–Field Level Media

Jan 5, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin (26) and outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin (49) celebrate a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Dolphins signing LB Shaquem Griffin

The Miami Dolphins are signing former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin to a one-year deal, NFL Network reported Friday.

Griffin, who turned 26 on Tuesday, registered nine tackles, three quarterback hits and one sack in 14 games off the bench for Seattle in 2020.

A fifth-round pick in 2018, Griffin recorded 25 tackles, six quarterback hits and one sack in 46 games (one start) for Seattle.

Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, is a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Seahawks.

–Field Level Media