“Our players have the right to make a decision that they feel is best for them," said DeCosta.
The NFL wants team employees to get vaccinated, and Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Monday that it’s the “best thing” for his team, too.
But he also wants players to make the decision for themselves.
At the team’s predraft news conference Monday, DeCosta said that he, coach John Harbaugh and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz have all received the coronavirus vaccine. But he acknowledged that a “vaccination is a very personal thing.”
“I think, for me, it was the right thing to do,” DeCosta said. “Our players have the right to make a decision that they feel is best for them. There is a benefit to the club, having as many people vaccinated as possible. We believe it’s the best thing for our players and organization. But again, we support our players and their right to choose what they think is best for themselves. And we’ll pivot accordingly.”
The NFL wrote in a memo to teams last week that all nonplayer employees — known in the league as Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees — are expected to get vaccinated unless they have an underlying medical or religious reason for not doing so.
Tier 1 employees include coaches and athletic trainers, while Tier 2 employees include general managers, assistant coaches and football operations employees. According to the memo, any Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees who decline vaccinations without “bona fide medical or religious grounds” should have limited access to facilities and won’t be able to work with players directly or in close proximity.
While players are not yet required to get vaccinated, the NFL said it’s working with the NFL Players Association on a set of protocol changes that would apply to teams when vaccination levels reach a “certain threshold,” including relaxed physical-distancing and testing requirements.
The NFL is also encouraging teams to hold informational sessions for players, families and staff members to address any concerns about the vaccine.