Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane earned himself a talking-to from the league after some controversial comments about his strategy for determining the team’s final roster.
Beane spoke out about Buffalo’s strategy toward player vaccinations, which comes ahead of the possibility of loosening restrictions that could allow teams to return to some pre-COVID guidelines like larger in-person meetings. But Beane’s stance on whether to weigh vaccinations when making cuts didn’t seem to sit well with the league.
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Beane on Vaccines
Speaking on the team-sponsored One Bills Live broadcast, Beane was asked whether he would consider a player’s vaccination status when determining the final roster. Beane said that it would certainly be a consideration, especially if doing so would help the team reach a threshold that would allow more in-person activities.
“You guys saw it in the fieldhouse, we had three and four meetings going on, and sometimes you’re talking over each other. But it was the only way to pull it off and be social distant,” Beane said. “So it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella.”
As John Wawrow of The Associated Press noted, the Bills have already been operating under some loosened restrictions. They were one of several teams able to conduct draft activities without team personnel wearing masks, he noted. Beane predicted that the league would continue to offer more incentives to teams that reach a certain number of vaccinated players, even though the league has decided not to mandate it for players.
“If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year,” Beane said on One Bills Live. “But I hope, if those are the rules, that we’ll be able to get enough people to be vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches.”
NFL Talks to Beane
The reply may not have gone over well with the league. As NFL.com reported, citing the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league spoke with Beane after his comments and clarified that a team is not allowed to release a player based solely on their vaccination status. The report added that the league has not announced any rules regarding loosening restrictions, which Beane had referenced.
But as the NFL.com report noted, the league has told teams that they are allowed to encourage players to get vaccinated, including telling them that vaccinations could help them avoid missing practices and games.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen stirred up some controversy last month when he said that he had not yet been vaccinated and was still gathering information about it. Allen said he had an open mind about getting vaccinated and said players should be allowed to make the decision on their own.
“I’m a big statistics and logical guy. So if the statistics show it’s the right thing for me to do, I’d do it,” Allen said, via WGRZ. “Again I’d lean the other way too if that’s what it said.”
The Bills were largely able to avoid the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks that struck some teams in 2020, though were affected by the pandemic in other ways. They had games against the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs delayed due to other outbreaks.