On Tuesday, Rivera made it clear he’s not happy about players who have expressed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. “I think it’s frustrating,” Rivera said of his team’s disappointing vaccination numbers. “Especially in the fact that last year we were the No. 1 team against COVID. … Our players took the challenge of staying inside the bubble, doing the things the right way and for the most part, you know, we only had two situations.”
The team is reportedly only around 60 percent vaccinated as of this week.
Rivera added that both of the players who previously tested positive “weren’t on the active 53,” so the team was able to make it through last year without an outbreak among players. “And now for whatever reason, we have some reluctance to do that, to get the vaccine,” Rivera said. He was diagnosed with squamos cell carcinoma last year, but it was announced he was considered cancer free in January 2021.
In tweets he has since deleted, T.J. Ward responded to Rivera’s frustrations.
“Just park the Riverboat,” wrote Ward. “His health is beyond that of COVID. Maybe it’s time to let it go. … Don’t blame the players for your life long health decisions.”
In another now-deleted tweet, Ward said, “At some point you gotta pay for them vices. Cancer runs in my family like many American families. But also bad diets and cigarettes do as well. Except responsibility. Don’t blame and be disappointed in your 23 year olds cus they have they own bodies and opinions about their health.”
Following criticism for his comments, Ward spoke on the situation in one last tweet.
“Gonna address this one time more,” he wrote. “I was not trying be insensitive to anyone effected by the cancer. I know you don’t chose to get cancer. And I tried to clear that up. If you know me and my career you know what my support is for cancer people dealing with it. I’ve been effected myself closely. I didn’t mean to offend you. God bless.”
Ward retired from the NFL in April this year.