As the Washington Football Team opens training camp, the big question coach Ron Rivera faced was why his team, which was No. 1 in preventing COVID infections last year, is now last in the league in vaccination rate.
According to the Washington Post, just 60% of players have received at least one dose, three points lower than the second-worst team, Indianapolis, and well below the league average of 84%.
Last year at this time, Rivera made a personal plea to the team after he was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer, and doctors warned him of the potential dangers if he contracted the virus.
This year, that message doesn't seem to have stuck.
"Yeah, I am, I'm truly frustrated. I'm beyond frustrated," he said. "Part of it is, and the reason I walked in with a mask on is, you know, I'm immunodeficient. So with this new variant, who knows?"
Rivera said he'd continue to have individual conversations with players in the hopes of persuading them. Defensive end Montez Sweat made headlines in June when he said he wouldn't be getting the vaccine, in part because he doesn't have COVID.
The NFL has said that if a team misses a game because unvaccinated players cause an outbreak, the team won't be paid for that week's game, and it will likely not be rescheduled.
"I hope we can get to these guys and get them to understand, really, it's not just for them, but it's for the people around them," Rivera said. "And that's the thing that hopefully will get their attention is that it's not just about them, but the folks around them.
"The thing they've got to think about too, is, you know, based on the rules, you're risking not just your paycheck, but other people's paychecks too if there's no gameplay."