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NFLPA set to open investigation into Meyer’s comments on unvaccinated players

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer could be under fire from the NFL Players Association due to comments he made shortly following the NFL 53-man roster deadline earlier today.

According to ProFootballTalk, Meyer’s comments regarding his and general manager Trent Baalke’s decision to factor in COVID-19 vaccination status when considering whether or not a player will make the team has drawn the attention of the NFLPA, who says they will be opening up an investigation.

Earlier today, Meyer was asked the question of whether or not vaccination status played a role in players making the roster. He responded with candor.

“Everyone was considered. That was part of the production, let’s start talking about this, and then also is he vaccinated or not,” Meyer said. “Can I say that that was a decision maker? It was certainly in consideration.”

The consideration was likely due to any potential availability issues the team might have for its players that are unvaccinated.

For an unvaccinated player that tests positive, the player must quarantine for 10 days and will be under an additional three-day return-to-play protocol. For a vaccinated player, he will be subjected to the same 10-day quarantine or can return earlier if he produces two negative PCR tests 24 hours apart.

Additionally, if an unvaccinated player is considered to have been in high-risk close contact with a person(s) with COVID-19, then that player will be forced to quarantine for five days, able to return on the sixth day. Unvaccinated players test daily, according to NFL regulations surrounding the coronavirus.

A vaccinated player, however, will not have to quarantine after being in close contact with a person(s) that has COVID-19, therefore would miss no time at all.

For players that are unvaccinated and on a team, their availability will be seemingly up in the air as the days move forward. For example, an unvaccinated player that is deemed to have had high-risk close contact on a Wednesday will not be able to participate in that week’s game.

Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen had been on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list since Aug. 23, he was taken off of that list yesterday, Aug. 29. According to Meyer, Allen has never tested positive for COVID-19. He underwent a five-day period and was able to be activated on the sixth day, as per the guidelines.

“Josh Allen’s never had it and he’s not played in two weeks,” Meyer said. “He’s never had COVID. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but he’s never had COVID. So, that’s pretty punitive.”

It would be punitive for the team to have a player miss a game due to the vaccination regulations, which is likely why Meyer and Baalke felt the need to consider the status of each player when ultimately deciding who will be on the team this season.

The NFLPA clearly has an issue with that practice it appears and will continue to investigate the Jaguars as a result. In June, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith stated that it has protected its members in regards to getting cut whether they are vaccinated or not.