Bears TE Jimmy Graham rips NFL for ‘forced’ vaccine, shifting COVID plans

Because he wants to get on the field and catch touchdowns, Bears tight end Jimmy Graham is vaccinated against COVID-19.

But the 34-year-old entering his second season in Chicago feels as if he didn’t go willingly.

“Was basically forced into getting the vaccine. Now I’m just confused @NFLPA,” Graham said via Twitter on Thursday following word of the league and players’ union discussing daily testing even for vaccinated players due to new data around the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

After practice Graham said he wouldn’t hold back in his direct criticism of the NFLPA.

“If I don’t say anything it will become law,” Graham said after Thursday’s practice, adding he isn’t happy about playing a 17th regular-season game “for free.”

“It’s absolutely insane. … Especially when I’ve done everything asked of me,” Graham said.

Since training camps opened, 65 players have tested positive for COVID-19, the NFLPA said Thursday.

“I’ve done everything I’ve been asked and now I feel like I’m being punished. If I miss a test that you are proposing every day I’ll be fined a max 150K! How does this make sense. How’s the punishment 100X worse than last year and I’m vaccinated now?” Graham wrote in another tweet.

Four players are on the COVID/reserve list as of Thursday.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who tested positive earlier in the year, said he understands where players are coming from in absorbing an evolving plan for the 2021 season.

“All these guys have opinions and beliefs, and I’m never going to criticize anybody for what their belief is. We all have it, and we all have the ability to voice it,” Nagy said Thursday. “He (Graham) has not come to me about any of that, and Jimmy and I have a close enough relationship that if there is an issue that him and I would have that one-on-one.

“There is stuff going on every day with this, and I think everybody is figuring out the best thing to do to be safe. And not just in the sports world but in life in general, every state is a little different in what they are doing. Masks, no masks, things are certainly changing.”

Graham caught 50 passes for 456 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games with the Bears last season. The five-time Pro Bowl selection has 699 catches for 8,339 yards and 82 scores in 169 games with the New Orleans Saints (2010-14), Seattle Seahawks (2015-17), Green Bay Packers (2018-19) and Bears.

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