Roy Exum: Career Vs. Vaccine?

Sunday, July 25, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Rick Dennison is easily one of the top assistant coaches in the National Football League.  He has spent 27 years in the NFL and had his teams go to 13 playoffs, win five division titles, and has earned three Super Bowl rings. Yet on Saturday there were strong story lines he has been fired from the Minnesota Vikings because he refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

While our Constitution gives every American the right to refuse the vaccine, it doesn’t forbid businesses, schools, and organizations from requiring it. And that’s as fair as it can be. When you work for a man you play by his rules, not yours, and if you “adamantly disagree,” you have the freedom (and the hasty opportunity) to work elsewhere.

The worst sports story this year came when the N.C.

State baseball team had to forfeit its way out of the College World Series due to a COVID outbreak. At the time I was stunned the Wolfpack teams weren’t required to be immunized due to the nature of the game, the travel, the close camaraderie, and such. I believe every college and high school athlete should get vaccinated.

I am equally surprised to read only about 85 percent of the Georgia football team has been vaccinated. What better breeding grounds for a virus than a locker room and what better reason to take the shot than to protect your teammates? Brother, barring religious or medical reasons, be a teammate!

On Thursday the NFL issued an iron-fisted memo that took care of all future discussion. From the memo: "We do not anticipate adding a '19th week' to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season."

While there were a number of COVID-related postponements last season, the memo makes it clear that the NFL is not keen on postponing and rescheduling many (or perhaps any) games in 2021.

* -- If a game is postponed and rescheduled due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak is responsible for shouldering any additional financial burden.

* -- The team with the outbreak will forfeit the game and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc.

* -- For playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will take a loss for the cancelled game and the other team will be credited with a win.

* -- The team with the outbreak will be responsible for covering all additional expenses incurred by the other team.

* -- The commissioner has the right to punish the team with the outbreak, especially if the outbreak is due to the failure to follow protocols.

* -- Players on BOTH teams will not be paid for the cancelled game (a policy the NFL and NFLPA already agreed on last season).

* -- However, if a game is cancelled or postponed due to a COVID outbreak among vaccinated players, the memo says the NFL "will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams."

Man, that’s strong language and I think it is going to take an equally rigid stance in other areas in our battle with COVID. This disease is going to be around for a long time. Just because we have a vaccine doesn’t give you a free pass because the variants and Lord only knows what yet to come are already beginning a new surge.

Florida hospitals are full right now and last week Hamilton County was up 25 percent from the week before. In my Morning Readings the news sites I search are filled with stories of “anti-vaxers” who, after they got the disease, are now eager to tell others to “get the shot!” Further, at every hospital COVID patients beg for the vaccine, knowing it is too late but who are willing to take anything to get better.

There were an estimated 100,000 people outside the arena to cheer for the Milwaukee NBA champs as the game progressed. No face masks could be seen, people shoulder-to-shoulder and belly-to-belly. It hardly takes a genius or an infectious disease specialist to predict what is right around the corner.

Here is an excerpt from Peter Weber’s story that appeared in “The Week” magazine and website that explains this new surge of COVID 19:

* * *

NOTE: In a story entitled, “What does the Delta variant mean for the fully vaccinated?” Peter Weber explains the Delta variant:


The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — was first identified in India in December 2020. After ravaging India and sweeping through Great Britain, the Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., accounting for more than 83 percent of COVID-19 infections.


The World Health Organization calls Delta "the fastest and fittest" of the variants, and they don't mean it as a compliment. The Delta mutation modified the protein spikes the coronavirus uses to attach to and infect cells, and those mutations make it at least twice as transmissible as the original strain.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Delta variant "one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of and that I have seen in my 20-year career."

The Delta strain doesn't appear to be intrinsically more fatal, but people infected with the variant have a viral load 1,000 times greater than those infected with earlier mutations, according to preliminary research, and they shed more virus for a longer period of time.

The massive quantity of virus means more chances to infect a person's cells, and the more the Delta variant spreads in a community, the higher the odds an individual will come in contact with infected people and get blasted with an amount of coronavirus that will make them sick.


Thankfully, yes. All three vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — and others not yet approved — have proven extremely effective against the Delta variant. The vaccines appear to be about 90 percent effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, and 99.5 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths this year have been among unvaccinated people. But the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, and it isn't an impenetrable shield against COVID-19, especially when the virus is spreading freely.

* * *


According to the Johns Hopkin dashboard, there have been 46,260 confirmed cases in Hamilton County with 511 deaths. Due to low vaccination rates, epidemiologists are extremely worried that the savage Delta variant will hit Tennessee’s “non-vaxers” especially hard. They are calling it “The Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.”

As of last night at 7 p.m., 2.99 million Tennesseans have received at least the vaccine’s first shot (46.04 percent) and 2.47 million have received the second dose. And, 42.25 percent in the state have received both injections. Nationwide we have had 34.4 million diagnosed cases, 610,760 deaths and – worldwide – there have been now 3.8 billion (with a ‘b’) vaccine doses administered.

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