PHOENIX — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, one of the NFL's top players, said in a now-deleted tweet that the position the NFL is putting him in regarding the vaccine is making him question his future in the league.
The NFL came out Thursday and said teams have been warned if a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players causes a game to be canceled, they could be facing a forfeit, and players on both teams wouldn't get paid that week.
However, the NFL nor the NFL Players Association have mandated vaccines for players.
"Never thought I would say this, but being put in a position to hurt my team because I don't want to partake in the vaccine is making question my future in the @NFL," Hopkins' now-deleted tweet read.
Hopkins followed up that tweet with a tweet that said "Freedom?" And then, another one where he quoted a tweet from Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey with a personal anecdote of why he might not want to get the vaccine.
Hopkins, 29, was third in receiving yards in the NFL last year, his first season with the Arizona Cardinals. He's topped 1,000 yards receiving in his last four seasons and in six of his first eight seasons. He's widely regarded as one of the NFL's best wide receivers.
The forfeiture rules outlined by the NFL have caused a significant stir as has been common in conversations about rules regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in sports. Some players have been vocal about not wanting to get vaccinated.
The Arizona Cardinals are one of four teams that last week had not passed the threshold of 50% of their players being vaccinated.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday in the memo that the league doesn’t not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within 18-week regular season.
“If a game can’t be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc,” Goodell says in the memo.
For purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.
The league says more than half its teams have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated.
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Among the other key points in the memo:
— If a vaccinated person tests positive and is asymptomatic, he or she will be isolated and contact tracing will promptly occur. The positive individual will be permitted to return to duty after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, and will thereafter be tested every two weeks or as directed by the medical staffs. Vaccinated individuals will not be subject to quarantine as a result of close contact with an infected person.
— If an unvaccinated person tests positive, the protocols from 2020 will remain in effect. The person will be isolated for a period of 10 days and will then be permitted to return to duty if asymptomatic. Unvaccinated individuals will continue to be subject to a five-day quarantine period if they have close contact with an infected individual.
— Anyone who had a previous COVID-19 infection will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have had at least one dose of an approved vaccine.