It’s been a busy week for the local and national media covering the Minnesota Vikings — none of which had anything to do with the actual game of football. Following last Saturday’s news that rookie quarterback Kellen Mond had tested positive for COVID-19, and that Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley would be forced to quarantine for five days after being deemed close contacts, the noise has amplified regarding the Vikings’ handling of the virus.
It’s been reported that the Vikings have the lowest vaccination rate — 64.5% with 70% currently in process — of any team throughout the NFL. Spearheading this resistance have been none other than arguably the three most prominent players currently on the roster — Cousins, Harrison Smith, and Adam Thielen. These three aren’t the only Vikings or NFL players at large who have been outspoken about their decision to say “thanks, but no thanks” to science that improves the wellbeing of society, but it’s concerning when the faces of your organization are so adamant about it.
We all watched Cousins’ press conference earlier this week, promising to be “vigilant” about avoiding close contacts. He even went so far as to offer such “solutions” as surrounding himself in plexiglass or conducting quarterback meetings outside in January. Then Cousins’ hypocrisy was exposed after Holland Hospital in Michigan decided to sever its ties with the quarterback when his press conference contradicted the statements he made in multiple advertisements for the hospital.
The NFL has a strong, admirable stance on vaccination heading into this season. Should a team be responsible for a COVID outbreak, they will be forced to forfeit that week’s game if it’s unable to be played. And being that the Vikings are at the bottom of the list of vaccinations, the risk of a potential forfeiture is as real as it gets.
Despite what some folks want to believe, the reality is that vaccinations do in fact significantly help prevent contracting and spreading the virus, even if you’ve already had COVID-19. This is fairly noteworthy for Thielen, who was placed on the reserved/COVID-19 List last November.
The decision of the Vikings leaders to remain unvaccinated is the height of selfishness. On a micro level, by refusing to be vaccinated the Vikings now have to deal with the weekly risk of having one of their players come down with the virus and miss practice and/or game(s) — and possibly being forced to forfeit a game if they’re deemed responsible for an outbreak. And on a macro level, these unvaccinated individuals like Cousins, Smith, and Thielen are putting their own beliefs against data and science at risk of the wellbeing of society.
As ABC News said last month, COVID-19 has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Former White House COVID-19 advisor Andy Slavitt told the Washington Post in June that “98-99% plus of people that are being hospitalized and dying with COVID are unvaccinated.”
The commonly recycled argument against vaccination has long been something along the lines of “Well, I’m just really cautious of what I put into my body.” I find that excuse to be mildly amusing for professional football players, considering that a vast majority of NFL players regularly use highly addictive opioids and/or inject themselves with painkillers such as Toradol in order to play on Sundays.
Speaking of Toradol, the NFL Players Association issued a memo in June urging players to limit the use of Toradol as a means of managing pain. Former NFL player Albert Haynesworth said that his Toradol use throughout his playing career played a role in his kidney disease.
While unvaccinated NFL players like Cousins, Smith, and Thielen want to believe they’re better off without the solution for this virus put forth by doctors and scientists who have committed their lives to being experts on this particular matter, be sure to take the recycled “I’m extra cautious of what I put into my body” soundbite with a grain of salt.