Ron Rivera, head coach of the NFL’s Washington Football Team, said he’s “beyond frustrated” with his team’s low vaccination rate.
According to ESPN, just 50 percent of Washington’s players have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as they reported to training camp.
"We're not where we want to be," Rivera said, noting that the Delta variant will be a wildcard this season.
Rivera recently underwent treatment for skin cancer and said he’s immunodeficient.
"With the new variant, who knows?" Rivera said. "When I'm in a group and the group's not vaccinated or there's a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons because nobody really knows. I have to do that. And I just wish and I hope that our guys can understand that."
Washington’s vaccination rate is well below the NFL’s overall rate. The league said that 85 percent of players have received at least one shot and 14 clubs are over 90 percent.
Last season Washington had only two players test positive for COVID-19. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was fined for inviting a guest to stay in his hotel while on the road. Rivera is of the mindset that given Washington’s track record last year, the team should be leading the league with its vaccination status.
"Now, for whatever reason, we have some reluctance to do that, to get the vaccine," Rivera said. "These young men have to make the decision for themselves. Hopefully they can understand how impactful not getting the vaccine is, and you'd like to believe with all the news that's been out there in terms of the fact that people are being hospitalized, that are dying from COVID right now, are those that aren't vaccinated."
Rivera is stressing the need for more education.
"I'm not going to tell anybody what to do; I'm going to try to understand them and give them some reasons why I think it'll be a good thing. We'll see how it goes. 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, and that's the thing, hopefully, that will get their attention.
Top concerns for Washington are losing players for two weeks during the season should the end up testing positive for the virus.
"That's going to shake your team up," Rivera said. "We saw what happened, unfortunately, to Denver last year. They had to start a wide receiver at quarterback. You don't want to be in that situation. We don't want to be in that situation, so it could be a huge, huge disadvantage. And the hard part, too, that they've got to think about is based on the rules -- you're risking not just your paycheck but other people's paychecks, too, if there's no game played. I think that's something that we all have to think about."