Three-time Super Bowl Champion Michael Irvin made headlines last month when he suggested that players who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 did not want to win badly enough.
“Nothing else can be more important. You’re not going to get this [winning a Super Bowl] easily. Nothing else could be more important. … Jimmy [Johnson] made that abundantly clear [during Irvin’s playing career]," he told ESPN's Todd Archer.
"Nothing else is more important. And not being one of the [85 percent vaccinated teams] says there are other things to a great number of people on this team that are more important than winning championships, and that makes me worried.”
By Irvin's standards, former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson must not want to win badly enough. Within the last 12 months, Jackson has contracted COVID-19, but he remains unvaccinated. During a recent press conference, he indicated his decision to get vaccinated or avoid the treatment is a "personal decision."
"I got to talk to my team about this and see how they feel about it. Keep learning as much as I can about it. We'll go from there," Jackson told reporters.
"Talking to the doctors. We'll see."
Chief White House Medical Examiner Dr. Anthony Fauci may not question Jackson's desire to win, but he would certainly disagree with his argument that getting vaccinated is a "personal decision."
"Now for the unvaccinated who say I don't really care, I'm young and healthy, if I get infected, it is true that, statistically, it is unlikely that you will have a serious outcome. If you were living in a vacuum, that would be fine, but you're not living in a vacuum. You are living in a society," Fauci explained to USA Today.
"And if you become the vehicle for the virus to go from you to someone else, you are helping to propagate the virus. There's a very firm tenet that a virus cannot mutate, unless it is replicating, and, if you allow the virus to freely replicate chronically in society, it will mutate."
The NFL has not mandated that players must get the vaccine. However, the league has dramatically reduced the number of privileges that players have to avoid a potential outbreak. In essence, the league is treating unvaccinated players with the same precautions that they treated players with last season when vaccines were not available. Furthermore, the NFL will fine unvaccinated players up to $14,650 for any time there is a break in protocols.