Last summer Ezekiel Elliott became the highest profile Dallas Cowboys player to contract COVID-19, testing positive for the virus on the doorstep of the 2020 preseason. This year, he says he made the choice to get vaccinated.
Despite having some first-hand knowledge of COVID's impact, Elliott says he won’t be advising other players on their decision as Dallas tries to reach the league’s proposed 85 percent vaccination standard.
“That’s kind of a touchy subject,” Elliott said of player vaccinations. “You can’t really tell somebody what do with their body. I grew up in a family where we didn’t get vaccines. It’s kind of hard to tell someone who [during] their whole life their mom and dad tell them not to get vaccines, [to tell that person] to go get vaccinated. It’s everyone’s body. You can’t tell them what to do with it.
“I got the vaccine just because I wanted to put myself in the best situation to be out there for my team week in and week out. I mean, not everyone feels that strongly or maybe other people still have their view of vaccines. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do with their body.”
While the NFL can’t come out and say it disagrees with that premise, the league is now getting about as close as it can to making vaccines mandatory. After first implementing a campaign to inform players about the vaccines and then a series of incentives to encourage getting the shot, the NFL took a more drastic step Thursday, essentially threatening franchises and players with significant monetary impacts for any schedule disruptions tied to COVID infections.