Cole Beasley issues statement regarding COVID-19 vaccine

"I'm not anti- or pro-vax, I'm pro-choice."

Orchard Park, N.Y. (WBEN) - Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has garnered a lot of attention this offseason on social media and across the sports world for his outspoken views on the COVID-19 vaccine.

2021 Bills training camp

Wednesday marked the start of training camp for the Bills at One Bills Drive, and Beasley read a prepared statement regarding his feelings and opinions on the vaccine while addressing the media:

"I want to start this off by saying, I'm not anti- or pro-vax, I'm pro-choice. With that being said, the issue at hand is that information is being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with.

"When dealing with a player's health and safety, there should be complete transparency regarding information that is vital in the decision-making process. Without having all the proper information, a player can feel misguided and unsure about a very personal choice. It makes the player feel unprotected against concerns about future topics regarding health and our ability to make educated decisions.

"With regard to our overall safety, we have to know we are armed with full knowledge and understanding that those who are in a position to help us will always do that based on our individual situation.

"Some people may think that I'm being selfish and making this a me thing - it is all about the young players who don't have a voice and are reaching out to me every day because they're being told if they don't get vaxxed, they'll be cut. Agents are being told by teams if they have unvaccinated guys, they will not be given opportunities, as of now, to be seen in workouts. Once unvaxxed players get cut, they're losing a dream they've worked their whole lives for over a vaccine that has proven to not keep people from contracting COVID, as we've seen.

"Every doctor I've gone to with questions begins every sentence with, 'From what we know now...,' which tells me we don't know enough. The NFL [Players' Association] is working to have vaccinated players tested more frequently than what the NFL initially stated. A lot of players got the vaccination with the idea that these rules were already set in stone, and they're not. It is common sense that if a vaxxed or unvaxxed player is tested less frequently, the likelihood for a player to be pulled from COVID drops dramatically.

"In regard to player safety, I will conclude by saying we all want to be safe. For so many players around the NFL, safety does not solely mean avoiding the COVID virus. Our health is the now and years beyond, which we are trying to protect with our personal choice while doing all the things we did in our protocol during a very successful 2020 NFL season. That's kind of where the issue has been for me this whole time, and that's how I want to end it right there."

Beasley went on to say that he only wanted to be asked questions about football so that "we can put this to the side."

As the pandemic and subsequent vaccine has dominated much of the offseason narrative, head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane addressed the issue in separate press conferences Wednesday.

"Everyone has their position on it, and I think when you take the approach of respect, respecting people's positions, trying to gain as much understanding as you can, I think those are two great approaches to situations like the vaccination," said McDermott.

Beane added that over 80% of the team has received at least one shot, and all of the coaches are vaccinated. He also noted that offensive linemen Dion Dawkins and Ike Boettger have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and will have to go through proper protocols.

"As we're seeing in this county, vaccinated or unvaccinated, sometimes guys that are vaccinated are also getting these breakthrough cases, and we've had a couple of those, counting these guys in that mix," said Beane. "We're still dealing with this; we're still learning it - it's been a tough situation for our country, and it's no different here. We've been trying to educate our guys all through back in May and June, and our guys have done a really good job of listening and trying to educate themselves. Are we 100%? No, but a lot of guys have made that decision. We've had an uptick in guys that have at least got one shot, so we'll continue to educate, and at the end of the day, we're not going to force it on any of our players or any of our staff - it's a personal decision."

The Bills will return to the practice field on Thursday for a 10 a.m. ET session.

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