Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, in a challenge to the National Football League’s new Covid-19 training camp and preseason protocols, tweeted that he’d rather retire than get a vaccine.
“Everyone — Hi, I’m Cole Beasley and I’m not vaccinated!,” he wrote in a post Friday that he called a “Public Service Announcement.”
“I will be outside doing what I do,” Beasley added. “I’ll be out in the public. If your scared of me then steer clear, or get vaccinated. Point. Blank. Period. I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living.”
The defiant tweet comes on the same week the NFL sent teams a memo highlighting different protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The league relaxed protocols for players and staff who are fully vaccinated – including the loosening of Covid-19 testing to once every two weeks, and lifting the face covering requirement at club facilities or during travel. Additionally, vaccinated players and staff who come in close contact with someone who tests positive will not be required to quarantine.
For unvaccinated players and staff, the protocols include daily testing, masks requirements and quarantine after exposure. Unvaccinated individuals must also remain physically distant from others in club facilities, and will not be allowed to eat with teammates or other staff. During travel, they will not be allowed to leave the team hotel.
Beasley tweeted: “I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken. I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is necessary to be a healthy individual. That is MY CHOICE based on MY experiences and what I think is best.”
“If I’m forced into retirement,” he added, “so be it.”
The 32-year-old wide receiver, who finished the 2020 NFL season with 967 yards and four touchdowns, said other NFL players “hold my position” but are not as outspoken.
“I feel for you and I’m hoping I’m doing my part to represent you guys well,” wrote Beasley, who was named second team All-Pro last season for the first time in his nine-year career.
There was no immediate comment from the NFL.
League minicamps opened this week. Teams that reach or surpass the 85% vaccination threshold may relax mandated health and safety protocols.
“Everybody’s tired of meeting out here and eating outside and doing all those things we had to do last year,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s still a personal choice, but I don’t see a reason not to be vaccinated.”
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera told reporters he enlisted a Covid-19 vaccine expert to dispel misinformation about the vaccine to his players.
CNN’s Homero De la Fuente contributed.