BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane would theoretically consider cutting an unvaccinated player if it meant the team being able to lift NFL COVID-19 protocols restricting in-person team meetings.
“Yeah, I would,” Beane told the team-sponsored “ One Bills Live” broadcast on Wednesday.
“You guys saw it in the fieldhouse, we had three and four meetings going on, and sometimes you’re talking over each other. But it was the only way to pull it off and be social distant,” he added, referring to NFL protocols limiting the number of players who could meet at one time. “So it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella.”
Beane's response was to a question about potentially cutting a player at the lower end of Buffalo's 53-man roster, and comes when the NFL is loosening its restrictions for teams whose staff and players have been fully vaccinated.
The Bills, for example, were one of numerous teams allowed to conduct the draft at their headquarters and without officials wearing face masks under the new vaccination rules.
The Bills did not make Beane available for comment.
What’s unclear is whether and how the NFL will expand its policy once teams begin practicing in person.
Last year, teams were limited to hosting most meetings via Zoom, with restrictions placed on how many players and coaches could gather at one time. Team officials and players were also required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing and wear masks.
Beane expects those restrictions to be loosened, while noting the rules have yet to be determined.
“I think there’s going to be some incentives. If you have `X’ number of percent of your players and staff vaccinated, you can live normal, let’s call it — back to the the old days,” he said.
“If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year,” Beane added. “But I hope, if those are the rules, that we’ll be able to get enough people to be vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches.”
The topic of vaccinations has been a source of debate among the Bills.
Last month, quarterback Josh Allen told The Ringer podcast the decision to get vaccinated is a personal choice, while adding he was still debating whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think everybody should have a choice to do it and not to do it,” Allen said, speaking by video from his offseason home in California. “You get in this tricky situation now where if you do mandate that, that’s kind of going against what our Constitution says, and the freedom to kind of express yourself one way or the other.”
The NFL and NFL Players Association are encouraging but not mandating players to get vaccinated.
Starting safety Jordan Poyer’s wife, Rachel Bush, has actively protested mask wearing and mandatory vaccination on her Twitter account. Bush is an Instagram model who has nearly 91,000 followers.
On Wednesday, Bush deleted a post in which she noted numerous high-profile players are against receiving the vaccine.
In the deleted tweet, posted about an hour after Beane spoke, Bush wrote: “I wonder if Buffalo is aware of how many players are actually against being an experiment for the vaccine. I know some big names right off the bat. Can’t force anyone to do anything. "
Bush then questioned whether any push to have players vaccinated could be divisive.
“Have to keep the vibes we have had in the past if you expect success this year,” she wrote.
Poyer was a defensive team captain last season.
The Bills are coming off a breakthrough season in which they won their first AFC East title since 1995 and made their deepest playoff run in 27 years before losing to Kansas City in the conference championship game.
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