The Associated Press recently reported that the Arizona Cardinals are one of four NFL teams that are under 50% vaccinated —- this news coming less than two weeks before training camp.
By contrast, the AP also reported that there are currently ten NFL teams that have more than 85% of their players vaccinated, which includes the Broncos who, if you recall, had to start a game last year with a WR playing QB because their entire QB room was inactive due to the observance of COVID-19 protocols.
FOX 10 Phoenix article link:
Here was my reaction to hearing the news on Twitter yesterday from Erik Zembeck (@EZem..):
Cards low vaccination rate is, as you say, inexcusable and embarrassing specially considering the struggles, Bidwill, Fitz and others went through with COVID-19 last season and with Budda during the off-season. Yet another sign of organizational dysfunction and myopia.— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) July 16, 2021
According FOX News 10 Phoenix:
“Unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling. Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions.”
Having spend the majority of this week’s Red Rain Podcast discussing with our special guest, ROTB’s since61, how the proverbial deck is stacked against against Kliff Kingsbury this season, we can now add the Cardinals’ low vaccination percentage to a daunting list that includes:
- Coaching as the least established coach in the toughest division in the NFL, versus three head coaches who have coached their teams to the Super Bowl.
- Currently having the 21st best NFL roster according to PFF.
- Current odds to make the playoffs: 11th in NFC (+ 160), 21st in NFL to make the Super Bowl, per https://www.sportsbettingdime.com/nfl/playoff-odds
- Having no assistant coaches on his staff that he has ever coached with before and therefore are not likely to be allied to him if the team struggles.
- Working with a local and national media that have questioned whether he deserved being hired as an NFL head coach —- one of whom wrote an op-ed in Phoenix the day he was hired to claim the hiring “is a big mistake.”
- This off-season having part of his job as OC turned over to Sean Kugler, whom Steve Keim promoted to running game coordinator.
- Having Chandler Jones’ holdout handing over the team’s heads. When has a player’s hold-out ever worked out well for the Cardinals?
- Still having heard no word from icon Larry Fitzgerald as to whether he intends to return for his 18th season with the Cardinals amidst rumors that Larry has issues with some individuals in the organization and with team management for the way in which he was under-utilized in the offense last season.
- Being handicapped by the owner and GM’s decision to allow All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins to skip out of Wednesday practices. This decision coming on the heels of Kliff Kingsbury’s rookie season where two key defensive veterans, Patrick Peterson and Terrell Suggs, elected to skip OTAs, with Peterson facing a 6 week suspension from the NFL and with Suggs routinely taking off 2-3 practices during game weeks. Both of those veteran players would put pitifully embarrassing efforts on tape for the NFC West division rivals and all the world to see.
If a premium emphasis within the organization is not placed on the importance of team practice habits, then it is no wonder why the team led the league in penalties and went 0-4 during the 4 “distraction” weeks (post Bye Week, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) —- with the team favored to win in all 4 of those games, 3 of which were played against QBs who were starting their first (Beathard, Woolford) or second (Tua) games of the season.
Numerous pundits and fans want to put the blame for all of that on Kliff Kingsbury.
The profoundly ironic common denominator of how the Cardinals, under the leadership of Bidwill and Keim, have approached practice policies and vaccination procedures is that a player owes it, not just to himself, but even more so to his teammates, to be all-in with them at practice (see J.J. Watt’s video message to teammates last season)—- just as a player owes it, not just to himself, but even more so to his teammates, family and friends to secure critical protection against the COVID-19 virus and its beastly variants —- like the current Delta variant that is ravishing the largely unvaccinated states in the USA.
It is classic Cardinals to make the head coach the scapegoat for the organizational dysfunction, obtuseness and myopia that is rolled out year after year by the owner and the GM.