ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — The Bills were once again thrust to the forefront of the NFL’s COVID discussion when wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie tweeted that the league fined him nearly 15,000 dollars for repeatedly not wearing a mask. Fellow wide receiver Cole Beasley was fined as well.
This follows four players, including Beasley, being sent home for the week as unvaccinated close contacts to a staffer that tested positive.
Sean McDermott began his press conference on Thursday saying there’s plenty of evidence why you should be vaccinated and why he is. Then he went back to straddling the line between frustration and understanding that his players are not.
“It’s unfortunate when players get fined,” said the Bills head coach. “That being said, these rules have been agreed upon and in place and well-communicated for some time.”
A Washington Post report yesterday said only four NFL teams are below 89% vaccinated. General Manager Brandon Beane estimated this week the Bills are one of the four. That means Buffalo is more open to future suspensions and quarantines than most of the league.
“Very frustrating, very frustrating,” said McDermott. “There are people’s livelihoods at stake in terms of people’s jobs and their performances are judged off of wins and losses. Some of that is dependent on other members of the team. That’s why this is a team game. Being able to count on people is important.”
“I don’t think it will affect us as far as winning games or will really be that big of a distraction because we’re such a focused team,” said linebacker Andre Smith. “We have great leaders, great vets and so I don’t think any of that little stuff will really throw us off.”
The recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine has not changed the stance of unvaccinated players much. The Bills are trying to keep them informed.
“It’s been absolutely non-stop,” said McDermott. “They’ve been well-educated. We’ve done our part to educate them, build awareness, we’re always educating on a lot of topics, this being one [of those topics] and a major one.
McDermott again today reiterated his respect for the choice of his players went on to say that it doesn’t mean that he isn’t passionate about what he feels is the right thing to do for the greater good of this country. And to him, that’s getting vaccinated.