Sean McVay was too high to go there.
The Rams overtook Arizona and did so without four starts. Two of them, Tyler Higby and Jalen Ramsey, were eliminated on that December 13 game day.
When asked, McVay paused on the verge of his feelings. Was Ram lost, who knows?
“You’re (kidding) me,” McVay said. “For some people, there are no symptoms. They’re feeling great and that’s unfortunate. And you get some of these where there are false positives and so there’s a lot of mental gymnastics going on. But we’re just safe.” May try to take precautionary measures.”
The next day, McVay elaborated: “The scary thing is every player is vaccinated we’re talking about. Now you’re adding a lot of layers to the situation we thought we were in the past. And that’s the thing that I think is the most mind-boggling.”
Clairvoyance doesn’t need to know that McVay was wondering why last year’s rules stipulate this year’s protocol. But he didn’t say that at all.
A few days later, Steve Yazerman did.
The Detroit Red Wings general manager and former captain-Jeevan welcomed another wave of roster reshuffles by questioning the process. In doing so, he entered a land of nuance, a foreign country for most fans and media members.
“I really don’t know what the right thing is,” Yagerman said. “Now I am being political, but at the end of the day our players are testing positive with very few symptoms, if any.
“I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point. I think you can take it a step further and question why we’re even testing people who have No symptoms.”
Yzerman isn’t being political at all. He is being practical.
Pro athletes perform in packed arenas. Wearing a mask is optional in most places. Vaccination records are not required for fans. Just as there was cigarette smoke, the virus hangs on the ice or court.
But no one plays with a positive test, and there are now a plethora of postponements and cancellations. For LA fans, they’re jeopardizing the Arizona-UCLA basketball game on December 30 at the Paulie Pavilion, which is traditionally one of the high sacred days of local sports.
Yzerman is not an anti-vax crusader. In fact, his opinion shows a clear difference between last year and this one. There is a vaccine.
Yzerman’s own Tyler Bertuzzi, the only player in the entire NHL, has refused to be vaccinated. Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets is prohibited from playing by New York City ordinance, but can now play on the street. Hope he doesn’t fall off the edge.
Most athletes have two shots and many have a booster. They follow the same precautions at the workplace as they did last year. If they do encounter the virus, they can deal with the symptoms.
The NFL recognized the changing landscape last week. After it found that two-thirds of its players tested had no symptoms and the rest were only minimally ill, it decided that testing would be “targeted” every week and not necessary for everyone.
If a player feels ill and tests positive, he can rejoin the club after two negative tests, sometimes within a day.
Public health experts are divided on the NFL’s decision. Some say the test should never be skipped. Others are curious, such as in 2020, when the NFL was the only one of the top four leagues to play the full program, with some juggling moves along the way.
There was no vaccine at the time, and hardly any fans. Despite alarming case numbers from Omicron, it’s a very different year.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Washington Post that he “has not seen strong value in testing asymptomatic vaccinated people outside of exposure. Leagues apparently did this, and that led to a lot of under-diagnosed cases. I think we have to move away from that paradigm.”
With each variant, more experts are saying that COVID-19, like HIV, will be a part of our lives, and that vaccines and preventive medicines will continue to pursue them.
There may be more vicious off-shoots ahead, and we’re still not 100% sure that Omicron is as benign as it appears. But the NFL’s desire to accommodate — of course, driven by its lust for revenue and business — would provide doctors with information that society could use.
Finding a place between the two sides of the vaccine wars requires a voice like Yeagerman. It says it’s ok to play ball for now.