Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer caused a stir and sparked an investigation when he told reporters the vaccination status of players influenced the team’s 53-man roster cuts. It turns out that may not have been entirely true.
Immediately following Meyer’s comments, the NFL Players Association immediately launched an investigation and the Jaguars issued a statement walking back Meyer’s claim. But many believed the first-year NFL coach was being transparent about what everyone knew.
The NFL adopted different rules before training camp, implementing much stricter protocols for unvaccinated players than those who received the COVID-19 vaccine.
For example, any vaccinated player who tested positive for the coronavirus would only need consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart in a five-day period to return. But if a player is unvaccinated, they are automatically ruled out for at least 10 days.
It creates a competitive advantage for teams with high vaccination rates and many believe it has played a role in Cam Newton remaining unsigned. But it seems being vaccinated didn’t prevent many players from being left off Jacksonville’s roster.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, 23 of the 24 players released by the Jaguars were vaccinated. Furthermore, per sources, the Jaguars are the fifth-most unvaccinated team in the NFL with 11 players.
While the NFLPA must investigate the Jaguars as part of their duties to represent all the players they represent, an investigation into Meyer’s comments was never expected to result in punishment for the team or coach.
It is surprising that Meyer would make those comments considering the numbers provided by Rapoport. But even if vaccination status didn’t significantly impact the Jaguars’ roster moves, it is an influencing factor across the league in 2021.
Multiple reports have noted that NFL teams calling agents immediately ask if a player is vaccinated. If the answer is no, it seems there is little chance of that player getting a workout or contract. While it will cause many to be upset, the NFL is doing whatever it takes to avoid what transpired during a costly 2020 season.