OXNARD, California – Jerry Jones owns the most valuable sports franchise in world history, rocked deep inside a long-running politically red-hot state. Some of the closest allies of the Dallas Cowboys owner have been accused of deeply entrenched politics in a pandemic that has caused nearly 625,000 deaths (and counting) in the United States. And yet, when it comes to the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination culture war, Jones has continued to chain deep into the one camp that best represents his interests.
He believes in getting the shot. If only for the money and normality on the other side of it.
And as one of the most high-profile team owners in the NFL, he continues to sound like he’s taking his entire franchise with him, even though it takes every last minute of this preseason to make it happen. Pfizer and Moderna may not be able to win a Super Bowl or sell 100,000 seats at the AT&T Stadium, but Jerry Jones knows that the two pharmaceutical giants can get him a little closer to both of these pursuits.
So when you hear Jones say he has his team “on track” to be a leading leader in the vaccination rate, acknowledge that this is Jerry maximizing the business and reducing other complications to win. It is Jerry’s side in this vaccination culture war. It’s not about right or wrong or party platforms. It is about economic green rather than political red and blue. It is about pragmatism rather than patriotism. And it’s great for the NFL, who quietly wish it had a club owner like Jones in every single town now – obsessed with more wins and more profits and willing to adapt to what makes it happen.
This is why you can believe Jones and his son Stephen, who both said during Wednesday’s training camp kickoff news conference that Dallas is going to meet and eventually exceed the NFL’s 85 percent vaccination line to loosen COVID protocols this season. It strengthens the company’s bottom line and avoids giving away an inappropriate benefit next season. It’s as simple as being good for business – and it’s the side that Jones will vote 99 times out of 100 (and the 100th time was just because Jerry was in the bathroom).
As much as the league and other NFL team owners might talk about the health and safety implications of COVID and vaccination, Jones shows the message that really matters to all billionaires in his sphere. The pandemic scared Jerry as a businessman. Like, it scared everyone else among the franchise owners because it was completely out of NFL control. And for all the team owners knew, the pandemic could possibly have represented the Black Swan Event to finally end the league’s long choking team in American sports.
If Jerry Jones did anything clear Wednesday, it was that he was upset about the disruption COVID caused for the NFL and his own team last season. So much so, he strangled several times during Wednesday’s kickoff news conference and then admitted it was because he was not sure a return to normalcy would happen.
Doggone, as much as I enjoy these things, I think, ‘Well, will you ever see it again? Do you ever want to sit up there and talk to everyone again at the same time? ” Jones said as his voice broke for a moment. “I guess I do not want to apologize, but I am sensitive today and emotional throughout the show. … If I do not come out here, it will kill me. It would just kill me. ”
There is some revealing simplicity in this statement and how it relates to what the NFL is trying to pull off with the vaccinations. The league is trying to get back to business. Right now, the road to this goal is as straight and sharp as needles delivering the vaccines to make it happen. And while the league may not force players to get vaccinated, it can create an environment to encourage that to happen. This is where the COVID protocols come in. These are protocols that stand to expel, separate and pressure unvaccinated players to take the shot. Either that, or be separated from the team in different ways during the season, or risk becoming an unvaccinated pariah if a COVID-positive body hits an inappropriate time (as it has done in a host of other sports).
People can make their own judgments about whether or not this is the right path. They can not deny whether it has been effective in the NFL because it looks very likely that the vast majority of the league will be vaccinated when the season starts. Given that each team will have 53 on the active list and 12 practice group players, it is important that the NFL can have an overwhelming number of 2,080 players fully vaccinated at a time when half of the United States is not.
Of course, that does not mean there will not be controversy. There will be players who become lightning rods in the debate, like former Cowboy and current Buffalo Bills wide Cole Beasley, who has refused to be vaccinated and repeatedly taken to social media to argue about it. Or ex-players like Michael Irvin, who suggested a very clear connection between vaccination and the player’s willingness to do what it takes to win.
“If you are not one of those teams [at the vaccination threshold], are you really thinking about winning a championship? Irvin wondered aloud on ESPN. “You can see what I’m saying. OK, so now if you are not being vaccinated and you have all these other teams being vaccinated. … Someone in the damn locker room [should say], ‘Hey man, we’ll get a chance, are you vaccinated?’ Let’s go through this because this may be a two-week healthy guy missing games and in this league this is not the NBA. In this league it may be for you. The right person misses two weeks, that’s it. Your ass is out. ”
It was a message similar to one delivered by Cleveland Brown quarterback Baker Mayfield on Wednesday that told reporters directly that teams with higher vaccination rates kept an edge over those with lower prices.
“It’s a competitive advantage, but it’s far more than that,” Mayfield told reporters. “It’s about safety and just general health and well-being in human life.”
It is worth noting that when Jones was asked about Irvin’s comments that vaccination was a sign of a will to win, Jones was excited about Irvin’s commitment as a player and eventually decided to call it “an excellent message.”
It’s pretty much as close to a bottom line statement as you’ll see from an NFL team owner who does not need a mandate for his players to be vaccinated. The message is there, and certainly Jones is not the only one scratching it.
The NFL had its revenue beaten by the pandemic in 2020, and now a handful of pharmaceutical companies have given the league a weapon to defend itself. That’s what Jerry Jones and franchisees care about. Therefore, they want players vaccinated. Getting their financial juggernaut back on its feet and on the trail of the $ 25 billion in annual revenue that seemed well within reach before the pandemic was declared.
All in the name of personal financial gain and proud team performance – a two-shot injection that Jerry Jones has been chasing for decades.
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