The outspoken former NFL defensive end would debate the misinformed Buffalo Bill and suggest he stop whining.
“Tolerant” is perhaps the word best used to describe former NFL defensive end Chris Long, the square-jawed tough guy who would always rather engage in an intellectual debate than a fistfight to settle differences of opinion with loved ones and strangers alike.
But when it comes to Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley and the rants he’s been posting on social media about being treated unfairly for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Long’s tolerance starts to erode.
“And so I think if you’re on the plane and there’s this anti-vaxxer dude, if I’m sitting next to Cole Beasley, I’ll debate him,” Long said on Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. “Or I’ll tell him to stop whining about it. Like, `If you’re not going to get a shot when you make a bold stance, just shut the [bleep] up and be bold, dude.’
“… If you just said, `I’m not getting vaccinated’ and then you don’t go on that big diatribe, I’m not going to get on your ass. But don’t be making some crazy [bleep] up and don’t make yourself into a martyr.”
Long’s leadership style has always been to nudge, not force.
“I think a lot of what you have to do is not tell people what to do, it’s to convince them what to do,” he said. “It’s to sell something to them. Being a leader is being a salesman.
“… I’ve been there in the NFL and I just know that these are a bunch of grown men. And the convictions that I have, whether they’re well informed or not well informed, are not any stronger than the convictions of other guys.”
On the other hand …
“I cannot believe people are like `I’m doing this bold thing, this revolutionary thing and I’m not getting vaccinated,’ and then they want to complain,” Long continued. “Like, I get it, it’s a mother[bleeper] and the NFL is basically nudging you to do something. But they’re also a private business and they can kind of do what they want, bro.
“So that’s kind of where we are. And if you have an issue with it, get a shot and then you don’t have to grab-and-go in the cafeteria, dude.”
The Bills have a potential quagmire on their hands because Beasley is far from the only player in their locker room who is resisting a worldwide vaccination movement. Prominent players such as quarterback Josh Allen and safety Jordan Poyer are against it as well. They’re just not as outspoken as Beasley.
How much an issue it will be for this team will depend on whether the NFL rescinds the restrictions it installed last month that require non-vaccinated personnel to be tested every day and wear a mask at all times in the team facility and prohibit them from eating with vaccinated teammates in the meal room and from leaving the team hotel to eat at restaurants or interact with anyone outside the the team traveling party during road trips.
The Bills’ players consistently shoved the issue to the side during OTAs and mandatory minicamp in May and June. They won’t be able to keep doing that when training camp starts later this month.