La Velle E. Neal III's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions every Sunday.
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Don't want two shots in the arm? Then they don't want you in their stadiums.
That's the message fans are receiving from NFL teams now, especially those in New Orleans and Las Vegas. And even in Minnesota, where fans in purple hear the team's message: "the Vikings strongly encourage all Minnesotans to be vaccinated." The Twins have a similar campaign.
All good by me. But how about the players in those stadiums? No requirements there. Why should they be exempt?
Outside of sports, the move is on to require vaccines for employees. Disney, Walmart, Google, Morgan Stanley, Walgreens, many more. This is happening inside of sports, too, including NFL coaches and sideline personnel. Athletes, however, have been left to make their own decisions. Why?
It wasn't too long ago when we were enjoying a maskless summer, seeing some friends and family for the first time in months and preparing to fill stadiums for the start of football season.
We thought we had the virus on the run. The delta variant had other plans, and it's now the prevalent strain in this country. Some restrictions are back, and along with those a stronger push to get vaccinated.
Decisions lead to consequences.
You want to refuse to get two shots but want to belly up at a sports bar? You could get people around you sick.
You want to sit your unvaccinated bottom in a stadium seat with 66,859 other fans to watch a game? You could get people around you sick.
You want to talk in circles about vaccines and personal decisions and contribute to a virus protocol shutdown on your football team? You could get people around you sick … and miss a game, and miss the playoffs, and get people fired.
The Vikings were fortunate their virus trouble a couple of weeks ago occurred during preseason, or quarterback Kirk Cousins could have been in quarantine for a regular-season game. Despite head coach Mike Zimmer publicly expressing frustration with his team's vaccination rate, Cousins apparently still hasn't signed up for his shots.
It won't be long before a majority of NFL leadership is on Zimmer's side. The Las Vegas Raiders are requiring proof of vaccination to attend home games. The New Orleans Saints will require a vaccination card or proof of a negative test. Expect more teams, and more leagues, to adopt the same rules.
We're seeing this outside of pro sports. Many professionals across the country simply can't return to work without being vaccinated. Same for college students: Hundreds of universities and colleges, including Minnesota, are requiring vaccinations from their student bodies.
It's time for pro sports leagues to demand the same from players. Get vaccinated or don't play.
Players unions? Deal with them later. This is a pandemic, folks.
How many COVID variants after delta need to appear before more athletes join – eagerly or not — in helping us end this thing?
At the current rate, we will be wearing masks on airline flights and in schools for the remainder of the decade.
But, hey, at least we will learn the Greek alphabet.
Energy now, creativity later
Gophers football practices are a unique experience, from coach P.J. Fleck's eccentric musical selections to the challenges he throws at his players.
"It's the middle of training camp," Fleck said Tuesday. "Not everything is clean, but the effort is there. The execution is there. The willingness is there and the back- and forth-ness is there."
Both the offensive and defensive lines are good. It was a war on Tuesday with each line having its moments. The passing game might be a work in progress as they build options beyond wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell. They are fortunate to have an experienced quarterback in Tanner Morgan making the decisions.
It might be one reason why running back Mo Ibrahim will line up in the slot at times this season.
Buxton won't be rushed
On Friday, Byron Buxton played his first game of a rehabilitation stint at Class AAA St. Paul, and some of you will clamor for his activation if he gets through the weekend without a glitch.
Let's be realistic here, as Buxton has missed the past two months with a broken hand. Buxton is headed down a path that could include his final steps as a Twin. The goal is to keep him healthy for the rest of the season while hoping he replicates his AL player of the month performance from April. If that happens, the Twins could revisit long-term contract talks during the offseason.
What's possible is that the Twins have given up trying to sign Buxton and want him healthy and hitting over the final weeks of the season to increase his trade value.
In any case, the Twins will not rush Buxton back.
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AND TWO PREDICTIONS ...
Skipping on Simmons to get a big
I don't see the Timberwolves pulling off a deal for Ben Simmons. Love his game, and he would make the Wolves better. It doesn't solve the problem of pairing Karl-Anthony Towns with another big man, which is a high priority this offseason.
Passing on two shots could get you cut
Ending where we started: vaccines and players. There will be players who will be cut from NFL teams later this month because they are not vaccinated. In a dead heat for a roster spot, ties will go to the guy who agrees to take the shot.