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Rivera frustrated with WFT lagging vaccination rate

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera takes questions during his training camp news...
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera takes questions during his training camp news conference on July 27, 2021.(WWBT NBC12)
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 11:45 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On the eve of training camp kicking off in full force, much of the discussion during Ron Rivera’s news conference wasn’t centered on football.

The Washington Football Team’s head coach did not hold back when asked about his squad’s coronavirus vaccination rate, which ranks among the lowest in the NFL, according to the AP.

“I’m truly frustrated,” Rivera said on Tuesday prior to the team’s conditioning test in Richmond. “I’m beyond frustrated. The reason I walked in with the mask on is I’m immune-deficient.”

Rivera, who went through cancer treatment last season, brought in a vaccine expert to speak to the team during mini-camp, hoping to ease some of the players’ concerns. While the burgundy and gold has the potential to turn some heads on the field this season, some of the hesitancy to get the shots took over the conversation.

“We’re hopefully trending in the right direction,” the head coach said. “We’ve had a few guys get there [shots]. I believe we’re over 50 percent, so we’re trending in the right direction. We’re not where we want to be, obviously.”

The NFL does not require players to get vaccinated, nor does it lighten protocols for an entire team once a certain percentage is reached. Players who have not been immunized must follow strict guidelines, however, which include wearing masks inside the facilities and having to attend certain meetings virtually.

During the 2020 season, Washington only had two players test positive for COVID-19, which left Rivera optimistic about his club’s approach. The latest evidence, however, certainly speaks opposite of that.

“For whatever reason, we have some reluctance to do that, to get the vaccine,” said the head coach. “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.”

While the health and safety impacts are well-documented, Rivera was also asked about how it could disrupt his team from a competitive standpoint.

“I think when you get into the regular season and you wake up Saturday morning and they’d come in and tell you that you’ve got five guys that can’t play on Sunday and it’s your starting group, that’s going to shake your team up,” he pointed out.

Rivera also noted that unvaccinated players could cause both teams to lose paychecks in the event a game is forfeited.

“You just hope they all fall in line and understand what’s at stake.”

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