The Titans wrapped up their offseason program with the end of mini-camp Thursday. When players return for training camp at the end of July things could look much different for some at St. Thomas Sports Park.
On Wednesday the NFL sent out a memo to teams detailing its COVID-19 plan for the upcoming season. The message to players was clear: get vaccinated and have all restrictions removed or don’t get the shot and continue to face the same stringent protocols players faced all last season.
But Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the team will not put any pressure on players to get vaccinated.
“I’m not going to comment on why someone may or may not make a personal decision,” Vrabel said Thursday in a Zoom call with media wrapping up the team’s offseason program. “We’re going to respect their decision to do what’s best and to continue to get the education that they need to make an informed decision.”
The Titans’ focus this spring has been on education. They’ve had multiple conversations and provided different resources so players could have as much information as they want about all three of the approved vaccines.
Only 50 percent of NFL players have been vaccinated thus far, that number figures to rise ahead of training camp.
“I can’t speak on the entire NFL, but I know on this team we’ve tried to be as informative as possible,” Titans left guard Rodger Saffold said. “Nobody has been forced. Everybody has been given the option. It’s all about safety for yourself, safety for your family.”
While the Titans are allowing everyone to make their own personal decision, the new NFL vaccination protocols figure to be a pretty good incentive for those players on the fence about getting the jab.
“For me, I’m kind of leaning towards getting the vaccination so I can be freer with my teammates, visit family, and not have to deal with some of those restrictions that come along with not being vaccinated,” Saffold said.
While daily protocols may be a big enough nuisance to convince players like Saffold to get the shot. The biggest benefit to vaccinated players is that they no longer face quarantine requirements if they are exposed to someone with the virus. Something no player wants to be required to do in the middle of a season.