Sep 12, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;   Los Angeles Rams fans celebrate after a touchdown in the second half against the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

SoFi Stadium fans must have vaccinations or negative COVID tests

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is requiring fans attending Rams and Chargers games to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within 72 hours.

The mandate takes effect beginning Oct. 7 at all outdoor events with at least 10,000 attendees and impacts anyone age 12 or over. Children do not need to have been tested but must wear a mask. Adults also must wear masks.

The first Chargers game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood under the health department edict will be Oct. 10 against the Cleveland Browns. For the Rams, it’s Oct. 24 against the Detroit Lions.

Fans must have had the final dose of their vaccine at least two weeks before game day and must show their vaccination card or an electronic version of their card. If they have not been fully vaccinated, they must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours before event time.

People attending NFL games in Buffalo, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Seattle also must be fully vaccinated.

The Los Angeles County order also will apply to any postseason games that might be played at Dodger Stadium, at USC football games at the Coliseum or any pro soccer games with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

It doesn’t apply to games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where UCLA football plays, because the city of Pasadena has its own health department.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks up during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick doubles down on vax opinion

Saying he wanted to clarify a comment about vaccinations he made last week, New England head coach Bill Belichick on Monday doubled down on his opinion that COVID-19 vaccinations don’t “solve all our problems.”

Belichick reiterated that “no player has been released or kept because of their vaccination status,” a reference to the release of quarterback Cam Newton last week.

But he didn’t back off his opinion about vaccinations in general, despite pushback from the NFL late last week.

“My comment relative to the vaccinations, really the way I feel is, that’s an individual decision for each person to make,” Belichick said Monday. “As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated and that being said, even if everyone is vaccinated, that doesn’t solve all our problems as we’ve seen, multiple players, head coaches, assistant coaches throughout the league have tested positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated.”

His comments echo the statement he made last week after Newton was released.

“There’ve been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what’s happened in training camp (throughout the NFL) this year.”

NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills pushed back on that notion last Friday.

“We released our data … from the first three weeks of August, and that data has consistently shown higher rates of infection in unvaccinated players than in vaccinated players,” Sills said.

“We know that vaccines are working,” Sills said. “What we are seeing are some vaccinated people who test positive. But their illness tends to be very short and very mild, and that’s exactly what the vaccines were designed to do.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NFL pushing for mandatory vaccinations for players

The NFL on Thursday said it has been pushing for a vaccination mandate for players amid dueling proposals with the NFLPA about a new cadence for testing the vaccinated.

The comments by NFL general counsel Larry Ferazini came during a media teleconference regarding the state of the league’s COVID preparedness ahead of the 2021 season. The first regular season game is two weeks from Thursday.

“We would still love to see that mandate go into effect tomorrow,” Ferazani said.

However, union president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter said Wednesday that the league never asked for a mandate.

“It’s the NFL’s choice on the mandate,” Tretter told ESPN Radio. “They didn’t enforce one. There was never really any talk about having a mandate.”

The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills said Thursday that nearly 93 percent of all NFL players have been vaccinated, leaving roughly 200 players leaguewide who remain unvaccinated.

With that as a backdrop, the NFL is proposing to test vaccinated players weekly vs. bi-weekly while the NFLPA wants daily testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. (Unvaccinated players already get tested daily.)

“The COVID environment is constantly changing and our success last year was built not only on a foundation of cooperation, but more importantly, on listening to our experts,” the NFLPA said in a statement to ESPN on Thursday. “It is clear with what we know about the Delta variant and with what we have seen already with clubs, testing needs to be a greater focal point.”

That testing cadence would seem to be the battlefield as Tretter said Wednesday that the ship has sailed on a vax mandate.

“I think that time has already passed,” Tretter said on ESPN Radio. “The NFL is not mandating the vaccine for players so I don’t think there’s any going back on that at this point. I think we move forward how that is.

“We know the protocols we used last year worked, got us through a season. So we’ll continue to refine those protocols, continue to enforce those protocols. That’s our goal again, to get through a season, avoid transmission within the building; that’s what caused us problems last year.”

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2021; Orchard Park, NY, United States; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) comes off the field after practice at the Buffalo Bills Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Bills WR Cole Beasley releases anti-vaccination rap

Buffalo Bills wideout Cole Beasley released a rap song containing lyrics against receiving a COVID-19 vaccination shot.

Beasley’s song titled “Heavy 1s” is an ode to both his uniform number (No. 11) as well as … well, let him tell you.

“I got heavy nuts,” is a prominent lyric, along with anti-vaccination lines such as “ain’t no vaccination for me, only evacuation save ’em homie.”

Beasley, who claims he is pro-choice in terms of information on vaccinations, didn’t stop there.

“To shut my mouth you’re going to have to kill me. If freedom of speech and freedom of choice go out the window then there’s no freedom at all,” Beasley said in the song.

Beasley has been outspoken against vaccinations, even threatening retirement at one point after the NFL and its players association announced new rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. He even got into it over social media with teammate Jerry Hughes on the topic, however Beasley noted that he had a calm conversation on the phone with the Bills defensive end.

As for his style of music, Beasley is not new to the rap game. He released his first album in 2018.

Beasley, 32, 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

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

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Eight NFL teams reach 85 percent vaccination rate

Eight NFL teams have exceeded the 85 percent threshold for player vaccinations, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Monday was the NFL’s deadline for players to get vaccinated to be cleared for full activity and avoid restrictions when training camps open on July 27.

Non-vaccinated players face significant new restrictions upon their return, and the number of players facing those restrictions appears to be high.

Some of the restrictions include daily COVID-19 testing, mask requirements, meeting-size limits and not being able to eat in the team cafeteria.

According to the same report, as of Monday 71 percent of players league-wide have had at least one vaccination shot, up from 65 percent in a June 25 report from ESPN.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: 85 percent of Dolphins, Saints players fully vaccinated

Eighty-five percent of New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins players are either fully vaccinated or on their way toward reaching that status, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Teams that have 85 percent of their players fully vaccinated are expected to have relaxed protocols this summer and during the upcoming season, although the full nature of those relaxations has not been announced.

Earlier this month, New Orleans coach Sean Payton told the Athletic that every Saints Tier 1 and Tier 2 employee had been vaccinated. Tier 1 employees are those who have the closest contact with players, such as coaches and trainers. Tier 2 employees are those with some close contact with players, such as general managers and football operations staff.

Reaching the threshold of 85 percent for players is what teams need to achieve to relax certain restrictions on player gatherings.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced unvaccinated players would face much greater restrictions than vaccinated ones. In addition, unvaccinated employees could lose their ability to work with players directly in meeting rooms, training rooms and on the practice field.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference ahead of Super Bowl 55, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.  Mandatory Credit: Perry Knotts/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

NFL memo details vaccination expectations for staff, players

The NFL on Tuesday issued a memo to all team personnel that announced the league’s plans to move forward with COVID-19 vaccination education and accessibility and encouraged all players and staff to get vaccinated.

ESPN broke news of the memo, which came from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, John Mara, chair of the league’s executive committee, and John York, chair of NFL’s health and safety committee. It was addressed to all team chief executives, presidents, general managers and head coaches.

“In light of expanded vaccine eligibility, it is appropriate now to take further steps to educate about and promote vaccine availability and acceptance within the NFL,” said the statement, which outlined a five-point plan for teams to implement the new league guidelines.

Steps include using each team stadium or training facility as a vaccination site for club staff, players and eligible family members; scheduling and participating in vaccine information session for staff, players and family; educating employees and promoting communications regarding the benefits of vaccination; and weekly reporting of the number of employees who have been vaccinated.

The memo goes on to say that the league is “actively discussing with the NFLPA a set of protocol changes that would apply to clubs where vaccination levels reach a certain threshold and would give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements relating to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects.”

The league does address exceptions for individuals who forego the vaccine based on “bona fide medical or religious ground,” but notes that any staff member who refuses vaccinations without such reasons will be restricted from “football only” areas and may not work directly or in close proximity to players.

Less than two weeks ago, Goodell said he anticipated packed stadiums across the league when play resumes this fall.

“All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back,” Goodell said. “Football is simply not the same without the fans and we expect to have full stadiums in the 2021 season.”

One of the faces of the league, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, is on board with vaccination education. He and his wife, entertainer Ciara, will host “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” a TV special aimed at raising awareness about vaccinations against COVID-19.

It is scheduled to air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that 36.4 percent of Americans 18 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, with 22.3 percent fully vaccinated with two doses.

–Field Level Media

Feb 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson (left) and Ciara (right) appears on the red carpet prior the NFL Honors awards presentation at Adrienne Arsht Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson to co-host TV show about vaccinations

Aug 3, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills former coach Marv Levy (left) talks with ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, entertainer Ciara, will host “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” a TV special aimed at raising awareness about vaccinations against COVID-19.

It is scheduled to air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.

Also set to make appearances on the program are President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Jennifer Lopez, and actors Lin-Manuel Miranda and Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey is scheduled to interview Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that 36.4 percent of Americans 18 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, with 22.3 percent fully vaccinated with two doses.

–Field Level Media