In June, Cole Beasley threw out a series of tweets blasting the response to COVID-19 in his local communities and specifically in NFL locker rooms with the NFL Players Association. He went so far as to say he would hold steadfast to his beliefs, even if it meant he had to retire.
On Wednesday, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott faced the media for the first time since the comments and was asked to respond. He deflected on the specific comments, while giving carefully crafted responses. No one can ever say the guy doesn’t do his homework.
“Certainly respect Cole’s opinion,” said McDermott from the American Century Championship golf tournament, via Thad Brown and WROC. “I think that’s where we are as a world. Got a lot of different people having a lot of different opinions. The best thing we can do is respect each other’s positions.”
On NFL Network, McDermott took the comments a little bit further as to his plan for the team when they return to training camp.
“That’s something our whole world has dealt with over the last year and then since the vaccines have become available, now we’re dealing with new decisions that we all have to make. I think the best thing we can do is educate ourselves, build awareness, and then the individuals have to make their own decisions,” said McDermott. “We have to respect each and every one of the positions that are out there and at the end of the day, do what’s in the best interests of your situations specifically and the families that we’re talking about here.”
The Bills and other NFL teams should be able to lift their restrictive COVID-19 protocols sometime during the preseason or regular season if enough players on their roster are vaccinated. That obviously appeals to McDermott, who wants to get back to the normal way of doing business as a team. As a league employee and not a player, McDermott was required to be vaccinated and has been echoing the league’s thoughts.
“I just hope we continue to move forward in that direction just for the greater good of society and the greater good of our team,” McDermott said. “But again, have to respect everyone’s position either to get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated.”
With that being said, McDermott doesn’t see the process as bad for the locker room. Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds, and the rest of the Bills players interviewed during spring practices have said they won’t discuss the vaccination statuses of players on the team publicly and will instead keep those conversations in-house as a means to control emotions and outside pressure.
“I trust the players in a our locker room that they’re going to make good decisions and we’re gonna be where we need to be when the season rolls around,” McDermott said, citing the player-driven leadership as a positive.
Beasley has said he’s going to openly violate the league’s protocols for unvaccinated players when the season rolls around, so it would seem that statement doesn’t line up with McDermott’s. We will have to wait and see how much is offseason talk and how much will change when the rubber meets the road.