Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, an outspoken opponent of the NFL's aggressive pro-vaccine rules, has entered the league's COVID protocol after coming in close contact with a team trainer who tested positive for the virus.
Beasley has since tested negative for the virus. The trainer who tested positive was fully vaccinated.
What are the details?
The news, which broke Tuesday, ignited a flurry of criticism for Beasley who this summer made headlines for his forceful opposition to the league's stringent COVID-19 rules which teeter near the edge of being a full-blown vaccine mandate.
"Actions have consequences," Deadspin writer Donovan Dooley wrote. "Beasley made his bed now he has to lay in it for five days." He referred to the star wideout as "Buffalo's anti-vax idiot."
But the development, far from proving Beasley's imprudence, may serve to highlight just how nonsensical are the league's COVID-19 protocols.
Beasley, along with three other teammates — including fellow wide receiver Gabriel Davis and defensive tackles Star Lotoulilei and Vernon Butler — were sent home Tuesday due to their close-contact designations.
All four players tested negative for the virus Tuesday but nevertheless were forced to enter the five-day re-entry process as mandated by the NFL. League protocols require unvaccinated players who come in contact with an infected person to quarantine for five days with daily testing.
Two other teammates, linebackers Matt Milano and A.J. Klein, were also reportedly sent home Tuesday out of precaution. But after an investigation, their designations as close contacts were reversed.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said, "This is our new normal. It's not the normal we like. But it's the world we're in."
"We're not exempt from any of this, as we've said many times. We're going to try to keep our building as safe as we can. Everyone understands the protocols and the rules," he added.
Why does it matter?
The story has gained significant traction due to Beasley's public opposition to the league's vaccine push.
In Beasley's case, he's catching flack because he's unvaccinated. But it's ironic that his forced quarantine is not the result of his infection; rather, it is the result of a vaccinated individual's infection — though it should be noted that Beasley could soon test positive for the virus, depending on the incubation period.
In essence, the NFL's new guidelines divide players into two groups. But instead of the two groups being COVID-positive and COVID-negative like one might expect, the groups are vaccinated and unvaccinated.
At times, it's unclear whether the rules are there to protect the health of players and staff or whether they are intended as a mechanism to punish the unvaccinated.