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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie panned the NFL on Thursday by posting on social media a letter he received from the league about his failure to wear a mask inside team facilities. In the caption of the post, McKenzie shrugged off the fine and jokingly asking fans to "pray" for him.
"They got me! NFL you win!" the wideout wrote in a tweet.
He later added, "$14,650 damn ... Pray for me."
What are the details?
McKenzie, as an unvaccinated player, is required to wear a mask at all times while inside team facilities under the NFL's new stringent COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-2022 season.
And league officials aren't messing around, either. Based on the league's letter to McKenzie, they have eyes everywhere and are meticulously monitoring suspected violations.
"On August 25, 2021, at approximately 2:15 p.m. while walking through the indoor fieldhouse and into the training room, you failed to wear a mask," wrote NFL Deputy General Counsel Lawrence P. Ferazani.
"Then at approximately 4:35 p.m. on August 25, for several minutes, you again failed to wear a mask in the meeting area of the weight room while gathered near other players after the offensive meeting," he continued.
$14,650 damn Pray for me https://twitter.com/_isaiahmckenzie/status/1430873690720325633\u00a0\u2026— Isaiah McKenzie (@Isaiah McKenzie) 1629982030
Ferazani noted that McKenzie had been warned before about the consequences associated with his failure to wear a mask.
"By letter dated July 27, 2021, you received a written warning for refusing to wear a mask and were specifically advised that 'future violations of the Protocols will result in increased discipline, including for conduct detrimental,'" he wrote. "Still, as noted above, you again refused to wear a mask at the club facility."
The league official then reminded McKenzie that his conduct "potentially compromised not only [his] safety, but also the safety of others."
What's the background?
The league's strict protocols, intended to pressure players to get a coronavirus vaccine by subjecting unvaccinated players to a litany of burdensome rules, have been controversial since their inception earlier this year.
The protocols have been a subject of controversy perhaps especially in Buffalo, due to star slot receiver Cole Beasley's public opposition. Beasley railed against the rules in June, calling them "crazy" and arguing they effectively amount to a vaccine mandate.
McKenzie has been supportive of his teammate, saying at the time, "I see you out there fighting brotha love it."
Beasley, along with three other unvaccinated Bills players, was forced to enter the NFL's mandatory quarantine this week despite testing negative for COVID-19. He had come in contact with a fully vaccinated team trainer who contracted the virus.
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