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COVID around the NFL: Atlanta Falcons 100% vaccinated, Las Vegas Raiders mandating vaccines

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

There have been a few noteworthy tidbits surrounding COVID-19 around the NFL in the last week, but we don’t usually cover news from other teams. With its potential impact with the Buffalo Bills and the collective nature of the multiple bits of news, it’s enough for us to post here.

Editor’s note: The comments section has been disabled in this article. I frankly don’t have time moderate comments today and for large chunks of the week. - MRW

Atlanta Falcons are fully vaccinated

The Atlanta Falcons became the first team in the NFL to reach a 100% vaccination rate, something we know the Bills aren’t going to duplicate due to Cole Beasley’s very public stance (not to mention Jordan Poyer’s wife being outspoken in the same way).

Last we heard the Bills were in the 80s somewhere and that was before the team cut five players on Sunday. Back-end players are pretty much universally vaccinated in order to be able to accept tryouts and to give themselves a better chance at making the roster.

Allegiant Stadium will require vaccination

The Las Vegas Raiders became the first NFL team to mandate proof of vaccination at their stadium in the fall. They said they made the mandate so folks didn't have to wear masks. There is another cool wrinkle:

“The Raiders will offer the opportunity for fans to receive vaccinations on site at Allegiant Stadium prior to Raiders home games, permitting newly vaccinated fans to enter wearing a mask.”

The policy goes into effect for their home opener September 13th and was announced August 17th, giving fans less than a month to address the requirement.

This essentially bars 11-year-olds and younger kids from attending games. There is also no word on whether there will be exceptions for folks who can’t get the vaccine.

Ron Rivera is fed up

I’ll just let him go:

“Gen Z is relying on this,” said Rivera, the Washington Football Team coach, holding up his phone. “And you got some, quite frankly, fucking assholes, that are putting a bunch of misinformation out there, leading people to die. That’s frustrating to me, that these people are allowed to have a platform. And then, one specific news agency, every time they have someone on, I’m not a doctor, but the vaccines don’t work. Or, I’m not an epidemiologist, but vaccines are going to give you a third nipple and make you sterile. Come on. That, to me? That should not be allowed.”

Rivera is close with Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who was Rivera’s defensive coordinator in Carolina with the Panthers. Rivera is a cancer survivor and could be more susceptible to problems from COVID-19.

Dion Dawkins gets called out

Obviously, we covered this one as a Bills blog but a head coach calling out a captain and the team’s left tackle and blind-side protector for their newly minted $258 million QB is concerning.

“He’s not close to where he needs to be to play and help us,” Sean McDermott bluntly said Sunday. “He’s got a long road here. He’s going to control what he can control, and so are we. He’s got to continue to work hard to get himself back to where he’s – I mean, this is what, going on week four of training camp at this point? So, he’s missed a lot of time.”

There are unconfirmed reports that he’s lost weight during his stint on the COVID list and his conditioning isn’t up to par. He’s been working in slowly with the first-team after a few days of individual work.

Bills stadium requiring masks in enclosed spaces

Reports were mixed with the success of the new policy at Highmark Stadium during the Billy Joel concert over the weekend, mandating all patrons to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. Bathrooms, suites, concourses, food vendors, and other indoor spaces were all included in the County’s order.