Anthony Sherman compares NFL’s COVID-19 policy to segregation

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 02: Fullback Anthony Sherman #42 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on from the field during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs 43-14. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 02: Fullback Anthony Sherman #42 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on from the field during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs 43-14. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Former K.C. Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman took to Twitter on Saturday to voice his displeasure of the NFL’s approach to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Sherman was criticizing the policy that some teams have, in which they require their players to wear color-coded wristbands during training camp. These wristbands visually indicate those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not. He compared the league’s policy to racial segregation.

Anthony Sherman compared NFL’s COVID-19 wristband vaccination to racial segregation.

In part of Sherman’s tweet, he writes “I thought we all agreed on the evils of segregation back in the 60s. Here we are again- only this time it’s based on personal health choices instead of skin color.”

In another tweet shortly afterwards, Sherman wrote “The league clearly values being woke, not awake. What a shame. And what a sham.”

Prior to those two tweets, Sherman, nicknamed “Sausage” during his playing career, replied to Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star. McDowell tweeted that Chiefs safety Dan Sorensen declined to answer a question about COVID-19 vaccinations. Sherman asked McDowell what gave him the right to ask any health-related questions.

Former Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker backed up Sherman’s tweet to McDowell.

Before we continue, Sherman questioning a reporter asking health-related questions is interesting. For years, sports reporters have asked a plethora of questions related to health with head injuries being the most common one.

As you may have guessed by now, Sherman was met with a lot of criticism for comparing color-coded wristbands to racial segregation. A couple of hours later, Sherman tried to clarify his comments in an eight-tweet thread. You can click this first one below to read it all.

As you may recall, Sherman missed three games last year due to being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in October. In an exclusive interview with the Sports Spectrum podcast in February, Sherman confirmed that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Sherman said he missed the first of those three games due to coming in close contact with his wife.

According to Sherman, his wife got COVID-19 during a “girls’ trip” and brought it back home. But Sherman said he and his family did not know right away that she got COVID-19 during her trip nor knew she brought it back home.

Sherman said that he and his wife got tested and Sherman confirmed that he tested positive, which forced him to miss two more games last season.

In part of Sherman’s eight-tweet thread, he mentioned unvaccinated players can’t eat with teammates, can’t be in the weight room at the same time as vaccinated players, can’t leave the hotel when the team travels and must wear a mask at all times. While the vaccine was developing during the 2020 NFL season, the NFL did implement strict COVID-19 guidelines last season. Sherman alluded to a couple of those things in the Sports Spectrum podcast.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was recently asked about the new policies for training camp this year as some players came into camp unvaccinated. Mahomes said that unvaccinated players should “just try to be smart” and that they should wear a mask while trying to limit interactions with vaccinated players.

Mahomes’ suggestion for unvaccinated players to wear a mask did not sit well with some on social media. Mahomes was met with some criticism with some telling him “stick to football.”

Little do those critics realize that Mahomes is saying that for a couple of key reasons. Obviously, health and safety is the biggest one. Like most players, Mahomes has a family of his own at home, which includes a newborn baby. Another big reason Mahomes would suggest safety is because of the possibility that teams could forfeit games in there is an outbreak among non-vaccinated players.

It is very important to note that regardless of who wins and who loses due to a forfeiture, and regardless of which team is responsible for the outbreak among unvaccinated players, players from both teams (yes, both teams) will miss their paycheck for that game if the NFL can’t find a common bye week or a convenient way of rescheduling the game. The NFL had to shuffle games around due to COVID-19 outbreaks in team locker rooms last season. As you may remember, the Chiefs rescheduled their games against the Patriots and Bills last season.

Considering many players make six-to-seven figures per game, of course Mahomes would suggest unvaccinated players to wear a mask. Travis Kelce shared a similar message as well.

Let’s be honest: who would be okay with missing a paycheck worth that much money due to an unvaccinated teammate causing an outbreak? None of us would. Sherman even mentioned the possibility of losing a paycheck in his eight-tweet thread.

On Thursday, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy tweeted that 87.9 percent of NFL players overall have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 19 teams have more than 90 percent of their players vaccinated. Seven of those teams have more than 95 percent of their players vaccinated.

Sherman’s complaints aren’t all invalid. However, comparing the wristband policy to racial segregation is asinine. He could have delivered his message in a better way.

But there is no doubt that every NFL player and everyone worldwide is tired of this pandemic. No one is thrilled about the idea of wearing a mask. No one loved seeing NFL stadiums at limited capacity or stands completely empty. This disease was first discovered almost 21 months ago and the United States has felt the strong negative impact of this for 17 months now.

Of course everyone, including Sherman, is exhausted from this. Sherman does not like the policy, which is ultimately due to this pandemic still being a thing today.

We can all agree it is extremely unfortunate that we are still dealing with this today as many mask mandates are coming back and cases are rising in the United States and in most of the world. With that said, the NFL has to adjust to the situation at hand as it tries to make health and safety a priority. In addition to healthy and safety, it gives the league its best chance at avoiding forfeitures and having to reshuffle games again and having to deal with upset player who could potentially miss out on a paycheck.

Sherman spent eight of his 10 seasons in Kansas City after spending his first two years with the Arizona Cardinals. He was named to second-team All Pro in 2014, made the Pro Bowl in 2018, and won a Super Bowl in February of 2020. He retired this past March.

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