JACKSONVILLE (Fla.) -- On Wednesday morning, the Jaguars released a statement stating that they didn't release any players Tuesday due to their vaccination status. This comes one day after Urban Meyer, head coach, said that it was something they were considering.
The statement stated that availability was one of many factors considered when making roster decisions. We have both vaccinated and non-vaccinated payers on the roster. No player was removed because of their vaccination status. Final decisions will be based on the ability of a player to win for the Jaguars. We provide education to our players and respect their individual decisions regarding the vaccination. We are committed to keeping our players, their families and staff safe by following all protocols related to safety and health on game day.
According to a league source, the Jaguars will be among five teams that have the least vaccined players.
Meyer stated Tuesday that a player's vaccine status was considered in trimming the roster from 80 players to 53. It wasn't that players were eliminated solely because they had vaccinated. Meyer cited the stricter COVID-19 protocols that are imposed on unvaccinated close contacts who have been identified as high-risk or test positive for vaccination, in comparison to the protocols for vaccinated ones.
Meyer stated, "Everyone was taken into consideration." Meyer said, "That was part the [considerations], such as] production. Let's talk about this and also whether he was vaccinated. That was a decision maker, can I say? It was definitely in consideration."
It is important to note the differences in protocols between vaccinated or unvaccinated players. A player who is unvaccinated and has a positive test or is considered a high-risk close contact will be unable to play for as long as a vaccinated person.
Players who have been vaccinated are subject to a weekly test. Those who test positive must be out for ten days, or they can return earlier if they get two negative PCR tests within 24 hours. High-risk close friends cannot be identified by vaccinated players. However, if they are exposed, they must wear a mask and test every day for five days.
Players who are not vaccinated are tested every day. Those who test positive for a virus must be absent for 10 days. After that, there is a three-day return to play protocol. High-risk close contact players must be tested immediately if they are not vaccinated. They must be negative if they are to test positive. However, they can still return the following day if they have not missed five days. They must undergo the 10-day quarantine as well as the three-day return to play protocol if they are positive.
The comments of Meyer were not well received by the NFL Players Association. George Atallah, assistant executive director for outside affairs at the NFLPA, stated via email that Meyer’s comments "have led us t open an investigation."
On May's One Bills Live radio program, Brandon Beane, Buffalo Bills general manger made similar remarks. He said he would remove an unvaccinated player from the team to help them achieve herd immunity.
Beane spoke to the NFL about his comments. They reiterated that there is a rule that prohibits teams cutting players due to their vaccination status.
Meyer stated that the team attempted to educate the players about the vaccine at the start of training camp and encouraged them all to get vaccinated. However, each player was free to make his own decision. Meyer acknowledged that the protocol for unvaccinated players who test positive or are deemed to be at high risk of close contact could have a significant impact on the team's chances in winning.