Bills wideout Cole Beasley does not agree with the NFL's new COVID-19 protocols. The updated guidelines, announced recently after an agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, significantly loosen restrictions on players and staff who've been fully vaccinated for COVID, while upholding many of 2020's requirements -- social distancing, masking, etc. -- for those who've not been vaccinated. On Friday, a day after tweeting critiques of the protocols, Beasley said he's prepared to walk away from the game over the issue, noting in a statement that he's OK being "forced into retirement" because of his stances on COVID.
"Hi, I'm Cole Beasley, and I'm not vaccinated!" wrote the veteran wideout, who earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2020. "I will be outside doing what I do. I'll be out in the public. If (you're) scared of me, then steer clear, or get vaccinated. Point. Blank. Period. I may die of COVID, but I'd rather die actually living ... I don't play for the money anymore. Fine me if you want. My way of living and my values are more important to me than a dollar.
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"I love my teammates and enjoy playing ball because all the outside BS goes out the window in these moments," he continued. "I just want to win the Super Bowl and enjoy these relationships that will be created along the way. I'm not going to take meds for a leg that isn't broken. I'd rather take my chances with COVID and build up my immunity that way ... That is my choice based on my experiences and what I think is best. I'll play for free this year to live life the way I've lived it from Day 1. If I'm forced into retirement, so be it. I've enjoyed the times I've had ... So either way, it's a win-win."
Lots of other NFL players, Beasley added, feel the same way but "aren't in the right place in their careers to be so outspoken." Fellow Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie tweeted later Friday in recognition of Beasley, saying he "loves" to see his teammate "out here fighting."
On Thursday, Beasley was specifically critical of the NFL's new protocols, which require players, coaches and staff without vaccines to follow entirely different rules than those vaccinated during training camp and preseason. Those requirements include wearing masks, practicing social distancing, undergoing daily COVID testing, refraining from any activity outside team hotels and abstaining from any social/media/marketing opportunities.
"I don't have a problem with anybody getting the vaccine," Beasley wrote previously, in May. "That is your choice. My problem is everyone is ridiculing and bullying people ... into getting one or thinking the same way about it. It's becoming that way with any issue. This is not OK."