In the eyes of the NFL, and perhaps even some in his own organization, “Playoff Lenny” could transform into “Polarizing Lenny.”
Veteran tailback Leonard Fournette has become what is believed to be the first Bucs player to publicly express his unwillingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine, tweeting late Thursday afternoon: “Vaccine I can’t do it......”
The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter, only hours before members of the organization were set to receive their Super Bowl 55 championship rings at a private ceremony.
Fournette, entering his second season in Tampa Bay, also didn’t join the team Tuesday at the White House, where they were recognized by President Biden. At one point during the visit, Biden turned to the players assembled behind him and told them to get vaccinated.
“Amen,” head coach Bruce Arians responded.
Earlier Thursday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the league had sent a memo to all its teams informing them that any game not rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players will result in the team with the outbreak forfeiting the contest and be credited with a loss.
In addition, players on both teams will not be paid for the lost contest, and the team responsible for the canceled game due to unvaccinated players will cover financial losses and be subject to potential discipline from the commissioner’s office, Pelissero reported.
Any resistance to the vaccine stands in direct odds to the pro-vaccine mantra put forth by Coach Bruce Arians. The team offered on-site vaccinations to players and their families during its mandatory minicamp in June, with Arians stating his goal was for 85 percent of the team to be vaccinated.
“Eighty-five percent is what we’re shooting for, and everybody is getting tired of meeting out here and eating outside and doing all those things,” Arians said.
“You have to be vaccinated. It’s still a personal choice. I don’t see a reason not to be vaccinated.”
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