Buffalo Bills’ GM Brandon Beane kicked up a bit of controversy when he recently admitted he may consider cutting a player who wasn’t vaccinated in order to reach the vaccination threshold. That would allow the team to have greater freedom, including being able to conduct in-person meetings instead of doing so virtually.
Peter King explained the comments in his Football Morning In America column over on Pro Football Talk.
“Buffalo GM Brandon Beane said what the NFL didn’t want him to say the other day: He would cut an unvaccinated player if it meant keeping a vaccinated player would allow the Bills to be able to hold team and position meetings without limitation. I’ve heard the NFL is planning to tell each team if 85 percent of its players are vaccinated, the team would be able to revert to the 2019 mode of practicing and meeting this season. Beane told Steve Tasker on WGR in Buffalo “it would be an advantage” to hold meetings in-person the way they were held pre-pandemic, and so he’d be willing to make a roster decision based on who’d been vaccinated if need be.”
The NFL was quick to respond. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, they informed Beane that is not allowed.
“Brandon Beane got a call from the NFL league office this week, a league source said, about the Buffalo Bills general manager’s comments during a radio interview about whether he would hypothetically release an unvaccinated player if it meant the team reaching a league-imposed minimum percentage of vaccinated individuals.
The message the league delivered to Beane, according to the source, was that a team may not release a player solely due to vaccination status.”
So far, the league has done everything to encourage and incentivize vaccinations, but has not made them a requirement. It seems doubtful they have any plans to take that next step. However, the league has made clear coaches and front offices members who don’t get their vaccine will have restricted access to team facilities and the ability to be around players.
Bills’ QB Josh Allen said last month he was skeptical of getting vaccinated.
“I’m still debating that,” Allen said on Kyle Brandt’s podcast as transcribed by NYup.com. “I’m a big statistics and logical guy. So, if statistics show it’s the right thing for me to do, I’d do it. Again, I’d lean the other way, too, if that’s what it said. I haven’t been paying attention to it as much as maybe I should have. I’ve just been doing my thing and masking up when I’m going out and just staying close and hanging around family.”
It’s unclear how many players around the league have gotten their shots or the percentage per team. If that 85% number is accurate, for a 90-man preseason roster, at least 77 players will need to be vaccinated in order for the team to have “normal” interactions. During the regular season, given a 65-player roster (53 players plus 12 on the practice squad) that number would drop to 56.
We don’t know how many Steelers’ players have received their shots. Late last month, Cam Heyward shared a video showing him getting the vaccine at Heinz Field.
“I strongly encourage all Steelers fans to get fully vaccinated so we can have full stadiums this fall,” Heyward said in the video.
In Pennsylvania, mitigation restrictions will be lifted on May 31st, according to Governor Tom Wolf. Wolf said once 70% of PA residents are fully vaccinated, the mask requirements will also end. As of May 9th, 52.6% of Pennsylvanians have gotten at least one dose while 36.2% have been fully vaccinated.