WSB sports director Zach Klein first reported last week that all Falcons players had been vaccinated against COVID-19, which made them the first NFL team to reach a 100% vaccination rate among players. Yesterday, Arthur Smith appeared on the Rich Eisen Show where he revealed the team plans to play most of its starters in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Eisen also congratulated Smith on being the first roster to reach the 100% threshold and asked the first-year head coach how he was able to do it.
Smith’s answer should make Falcons fans feel great regardless of your opinion on the vaccine. Smith told Eisen that he didn’t force any player into the vaccination; instead, he provided a bevy of resources for the players to educate themselves on the matter. He told them how he felt, gave them all they’d need to make a decision, then let them make it. Head coaches in the NFL are much different than those in college. These are grown men, who can make decisions for themselves.
Arthur Smith knows how important it is for his players to trust and respect him; this is another step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned. It has nothing to do with the 100% vaccination rate. Smith is just showcasing all the intangibles a quality head coach is supposed to have — a true leader.
Still, you can’t deny the difference in the freedom vaccinated players are afforded, which improves morale and in turn, performance. Players are allowed to work out and eat together, won’t have to test daily, won’t have to wear masks around the facility, and won’t have to quarantine following a close contact with someone who tests positive.
The NFL and NFLPA have made it difficult to go through training camp if you’re not vaccinated. They are issuing fines for unvaccinated players who: don’t wear a mask in a team facility, attend social events, concerts, games, etc. without PPE, gather with 4+ teammates outside of facility…
- 1st Offense: $14,650
- Repeat Offense: 1-week salary
- Max Offense: 4-game suspension, unpaid.
It would be much easier to go through training camp, which is hard enough as it is, with the vaccination. Again, I’m not saying these players should or shouldn’t. I’m just pointing out that Arthur Smith handled this situation perfectly, which should give him a vote of confidence from the fan base.
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) August 25, 2021