Leonard Fournette Explains Strong Reaction to NFL Rules

Leonard Fournette

Getty Leonard Fournette clarified his position about the COVID-19 vaccine after deleting his Tweet on July 22.

Leonard Fournette made a strong statement about the NFL’s push to vaccinate players against COVID-19 before Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp but then clarified his motives.

“Vaccine I can’t do it,” Fournette tweeted on July 22. He since deleted the tweet, which ESPN’s Jenna Laine shared.

“First Bucs player to speak openly about not wanting the vaccine,” Laine tweeted.

Fournette opened up at the Bucs’ training camp on Sunday regarding his position on the vaccine amid the league-wide push for players to get vaccinated.

“I know a lot of people who got the shot and still got the corona,” Fournette said per Laine. “Just taking it day-by-day, week-by-week, talking to the doctors, trying to figure out what’s best for myself and the team.”

Fournette isn’t alone in knowing people who got fully vaccinated and still caught COVID-19. In the U.S. alone, 5,914 of the “more than 161 million people” who received the vaccine contracted “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 according to the CDC.

Concerns aside, Fournette said he will continue to look into the vaccine and accepts the protocols the NFL has for unvaccinated players. The Bucs will have doctors who can answer players’ questions according to Laine.

“I’m going to talk to them, and just see what’s the best decision, for myself and for the team,” Fournette said per Laine.

Fournette noted Bucs head coach Bruce Arians respects his players’ decisions on the vaccine despite being a major advocate for it. Arians wants 85 percent of the team vaccinated, according to Laine, and he took it upon himself to encourage vaccination during spring workouts.

“Coach respects our decision,” Fournette said per Laine. “We’re men. He said he’s 100% with us, whatever we want to do. Just don’t get the team sick. That’s about it.”

Fournette, Fellow Unvaccinated Players Face Liabilities

Fournette and other unvaccinated NFL players will need to follow protocols closer than an NFL playbook this season, or it could cost them financially and their teams’ success.

“We went over the rules yesterday,” Fournette said per Laine. “I know what’s going on, I know what to do and what not to do.”

That includes what wristband to wear. The Bucs identify vaccinated and non-vaccinated players at camp with color-coded wrist bands per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Red wristbands went to players who received the vaccine while yellow wristbands went to players who haven’t received it.

Notably, Fournette didn’t wear a wristband on Monday at camp. Bucs quarterbacks Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, and Kyle Trask also didn’t don wristbands according to Florio.

All unvaccinated NFL players have to follow the 2020 COVID-19 guidelines from masking to daily COVID-19 testing. Players in violation of the protocols face a fine of $14,650 per Laine. Additionally, an unvaccinated player who causes a COVID-19 outbreak on his team could cost his team a forfeit loss if the upcoming game gets canceled according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.


Another Bucs Player Deletes Tweet on Vaccine

Bucs cornerback Antonio Hamilton voiced an even stronger stance about the vaccine but then deleted his tweet. Ben Krimmel, a contributor for 106.7 The Fan, caught Hamilton’s tweet before deletion.

Hamilton, who the Bucs signed in May, called the COVID-19 vaccine “experiments” in his rant. “If they (the Bucs) get rid of me for sharing information to the misinformed, then so be it,” Hamilton wrote.


Hamilton is still on the roster, and the Bucs need depth in the secondary. Cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean sustained injuries last season. Safety Jordan Whitehead recently landed on the COVID-19/reserve list. Fellow safety Antoine Winfield Jr. recently tested positive for COVID-19, but the Bucs speculated it may be a false positive per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

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