Flowers: Roger Goodell and the virtue signalling of COVID vaccines

Published 12:43 pm Friday, July 30, 2021

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After the NFL became a bastion of gridiron “wokeness,” I basically stopped paying attention.

But I have to say my interest was piqued by a news item last week involving football, or rather, involving the people who don’t know how to throw a ball or run a pattern but who are expert in throwing shade and running amok.

They would be the owners, administrators and “others” who ooze social consciousness, hug trees, wear masks and bleat about their concern for humanity.

In other words, the suits in the front office.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a draconian system of repercussions and penalties for players who refuse to get vaccinated. He didn’t mandate that the players get the shot. What he did was basically make it financially impossible for players not to get the vaccine.

Pursuant to Goodell’s fiat, if a game is postponed and can’t be rescheduled because some unvaccinated players on one team’s roster cause a COVID outbreak, that team will forfeit the game, and neither team will get paid that week. In other words, it’s like when the teacher says, “If the person who put gum on my seat doesn’t own up, the whole class is going to have a detention.”

It’s guilt by association, and it reminds me of the fact that, increasingly, athletics has less to do with sports than with virtue signaling (remember those stupid pink cleats to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, taking a knee like Colin Kaepernick and forcing the Redskins to abandon their name?).

Additionally, Papa Roger has decreed that the team responsible for the outbreak has to shoulder all of the financial losses, and might also face non-monetary discipline.

This is just the latest example of vaccine-shaming. I understand that we want to create herd immunity, and that it is advisable to get inoculated. As soon as I became eligible, I had both shots of the Moderna vaccine, and I am urging all of my friends and family members to do the same.

But this isn’t about the efficacy of the vaccines. It’s about punishing people who make the decision that they do not want the government telling them what to put into their bodies. This whole idea that a person’s personal decision to seek the vaccine is a measure of their moral character is a scary thing. When I see members of the government blaming Facebook for “killing” people if they provide “disinformation” about the vaccines, and when I see random pundits calling parents who won’t have their children vaccinated “abusers,” I realize that I’ve fallen even further down the rabbit hole.

And now, even football has gotten into the act by making innocent parties liable for the medical decisions of their gridiron opponents. It’s frightening, because it’s an example of how, incrementally, society has decided to use shame as a motivator.

And what an extreme irony. Usually, progressives and the type of people who talk about the “common good” are loathe to make moral judgments about those who don’t follow societal norms. But if you decide that you do not want your child to be vaccinated, particularly where there is flimsy evidence that even the delta variant will cause serious illness or infection in those under the age of 16, you have less teeth than toes and likely married your sister. You are also evil.

And somehow, you are white, conservative and likely belong to the GOP. I find that last part to be interesting, because of my personal acquaintance with numerous people of color who do not want the vaccine. They remember the Tuskegee experiments where black men were treated as guinea pigs, given placebos instead of being treated for syphilis, and the government kept the secret for many years. We might also remember the eugenics crusade of the past century, where “undesirables” like immigrants and the poor were sterilized by progressive white elites, who knew better.

My point is that taking a vaccine should never become a referendum on our patriotism, our humanity or our concern for our children. And it sure as heck shouldn’t be a way to teach football players a lesson.

I got the vaccine. I hope you get the vaccine. But to me, an unvaccinated citizen is a lot less troubling than a society that uses intimidation and threats in its quest to serve the common good.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at