NFL Team Cut 2 Unvaccinated Players Just to Get to 100% Vaccination Rate: Report


The Atlanta Falcons were quick to boast about becoming the first NFL team to reach a 100 percent vaccination rate on Monday. However, a new report suggests there is more to the story than the team has let on.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Falcons still had a couple of players who declined to get the COVID-19 vaccine before Monday. In order to ensure their status as the first team to be fully vaccinated, it seems the Falcons took matters into their own hands.

“It didn’t happen because they convinced their lingering holdouts to get the vaccine,” PFT reported. “Per a league source, the Falcons made it to full vaccination among all players by cutting their two unvaccinated players.”

On Monday, the Falcons announced on Twitter that they had cut linebacker George Obinna and offensive lineman Bryce Hargrove.

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PFT did not report the names of the unvaccinated players who were cut from the team, but the timing means Obinna and Hargrove were likely the two in question.

Both Obinna and Hargrove entered the league as undrafted free agents, according to Sports Illustrated. Obinna set a school record for sacks at Sacramento State, while Hargrove signed with the Falcons this year after attending the University of Pittsburgh.

Later on Monday, the Falcons posted another tweet declaring that they had reached a 100 percent vaccination rate.

According to PFT, multiple other NFL teams could have reached that threshold by cutting unvaccinated players, “but those teams have unvaccinated players who are regarded as too valuable to the broader mission of winning as many games as possible.”

One of the most outspoken critics of the NFL’s vaccine protocols is Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley.

In July, he explained in a statement that he feels players should be allowed to make their own decisions about the vaccine, ESPN reported.

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“I’m not anti- or pro-vax — I’m pro-choice,” Beasley said. “With that being said, the issue at hand is information being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with.”

“When dealing with a player’s health and safety, there should be complete transparency regarding information that is vital in the decision-making process. Without having all the proper information, a player can feel misguided and unsure about a very personal choice.

“It makes a player feel unprotected and gives concerns about future topics regarding health and our ability to make educated decisions.”

According to ESPN, Beasley was the Bills’ second most productive receiver last season, with 82 receptions for 967 yards and four touchdowns. Given that success, it would make sense that the Bills would hesitate to release him for choosing not to get vaccinated.

While the NFL does not expressly require players to get vaccinated, it imposes heavy restrictions on those who choose not to receive the shot. In June, the league sent a memo to all teams explaining that unvaccinated players would be subject to testing, mask mandates and other significant restrictions.

Because of these policies, players fighting for a roster spot who choose not to get the vaccine will most likely be at a disadvantage, according to PFT.

“It had been believed that most if not all players firmly in the bottom rungs of the roster would get vaccinated in order to enhance their chances of making it to the 53-man roster or the 16-man practice squad,” the outlet reported.

PFT added that unvaccinated players who are cut from rosters are unlikely to receive opportunities with other teams because they must wait five days before trying out or signing.

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.