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Cole Beasley not willing to follow COVID protocols, even if he’s forced to retire

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has easily been the most outspoken player in the NFL regarding COVID-19 over the last month. While some players have said they won’t get the vaccine, Beasley has gone further than anyone saying he’s not going to follow any of the NFL/NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, put the union on blast, and even say he would retire rather than be forced into something in which he didn’t believe.

After comments earlier in the week earned backlash, Beasley tripled-down in an impudent social media post Friday afternoon. Subsequent posts from him on social media add more fuel to the fire.

“I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living,” wrote Beasley as part of the post.

Then he decided to tell the NFL that he was going to violate their protocols, which could earn him a $50,000 fine, a game check fine ($260,000+), and potentially more in escalating punishments.

“I have family members who days are numbered. If they want to come and see me and stay at my house then they are coming regardless of protocol,” said a defiant Beasley. Unvaccinated players aren’t allowed to interact with family members. “I don’t play for the money anymore. My family has been taken care of. Fine me if you want. My way of living and my values are more important to me than a dollar.”

That’s when he set the stakes.

“I’ll play for free this year to live life how I’ve lived it from day one. If I’m forced into retirement, so be it,” said Beasley, who said other NFL players agree with him but can’t speak out like he can.

Bills second-year receiver Gabriel Davis apparently is one of those players. He quote-tweeted Beasley’s post with a “100” indicating he agreed with Beasley 100 percent.

Beasley’s post has garnered international attention, with more than 20,000 replies, 12,000 retweets, and 65,000 likes on Twitter. News organizations across the United States have covered it. Most of the backlash is over some of his rationale, of which he has shared little.

“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. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is necessary to be a healthy individual.”

I wouldn’t suggest taking meds to help heal a broken leg and I’m not aware of meds you can take prior to breaking your leg to prevent it from happening. It’s a weird thing to say.

It’s true that the better shape he is in, the less likely he is to have a negative outcome from COVID. But just testing positive for the virus is going to keep him off the field whether he has symptoms or not. He could also develop side effects like myocarditis or loss of some lung function that other professional athletes had to fight through after contracting the disease.

Elsewhere on Twitter, Beasley has taken to responding to those questioning him, including national writers, doctors and health care professionals, and average fans.

“Everybody is so all in on science... What happen to God’s will?”

“You haven’t done any research if it’s based off what you read or people told you.”

“Let me know when you’ve counted all 600,000 and determined the cause of death for each one of them. It isn’t research if someone just told you so.”

He apparently has done extensive COVID research in a lab on his own, because he says he doesn’t trust what he reads or what people say to him (even after quoting his doctor, whom he apparently trusts but that’s not research, per Beasley). That would really limit his ability to gather new information.

The Bills have yet to respond publicly. The COVID protocols don’t take effect until late July, when training camp resumes. According to Beasley, the protocols are agreed to through training camp and the preseason when they will be reevaluated by the NFLPA and NFL. As we’ve seen with the changing guidelines throughout the pandemic, two months from now could look very different.