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July 20, 2021

Howard Eskin to Cole Beasley: 'Happy to hold your hand' for COVID-19 shot

The Bills wide receiver continues to make self-serving arguments about vaccination

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has spent most of the NFL offseason loudly and obnoxiously complaining about the way the league has incentivized COVID-19 vaccination for players and teams. It's not just that he personally wants to avoid vaccination. He's made himself the face of resistance to a public health measure that saves lives and hastens the weakening of the threat.

Beasley's latest complaint is that vaccinated NFL players are only required to be tested once per week, while unvaccinated players must be tested daily and adhere to other COVID-19 protocols that restrict their activities. He fired back at NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for suggesting that unvaccinated players aren't prioritizing winning, implying that the rules are basically a facade for the league to carry on without significant interruption.

One of the arguments Beasley has tried to make is that vaccinated players are still a risk to get a breakthrough case of COVID-19 and pass it on to their teammates, who will then miss time regardless of how serious their illness is. By requiring only one weekly test from vaccinated players, the NFL puts the whole team at greater risk, according to Beasley's narrow-minded view of the pandemic. 

This spilled into an argument on Tuesday with longtime SportsRadio WIP host and Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin. These two have some history tied to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, including Beasley calling Eskin dumb and Eskin making fun of Beasley's rap music when he was still in Dallas.

In an exchange with Beasley on Twitter, Eskin offered to hold Beasley's hand while he gets a COVID-19 shot.

The imagery actually dates back to an Eskin tweet before an Eagles-Cowboys game in 2018.

Putting aside how wild it is that Cole Beasley instantly makes Howard Eskin the reasonable one, it's really Beasley's entire outlook on this that has become insufferable.

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are considered rare. When they do occur, they are usually either asymptomatic or mild illnesses. And though the CDC does not count mild or asymptomatic breakthrough cases of COVID-19, it does count hospitalizations and deaths caused by breakthrough cases. As of July 12, the CDC reported 5,492 patients with breakthrough infections who have been hospitalized or died, compared to 159 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated — still less than half the country.

At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in all 50 states, driven by the doubly infectious Delta variant, a lag in vaccinations is the worst path forward. Public figures who fuel and influence skepticism — guys like Beasley and half of the Philadelphia Phillies, apparently — are actively prolonging the pandemic when we have safe, effective vaccines that can slow it down and greatly minimize serious infections moving forward.

Beasley's arguments are incoherently selfish. They have everything to do with his annoyance over the NFL's policies cramping his individual choice and nothing to do with any logical argument against vaccination. He's claimed not to be making that argument — and speaking only for himself — despite returning to his platform again and again to give it legitimacy in the form of his unfounded gripes. He's making the impossible argument that the NFL tailoring its protocols toward the goal of vaccination somehow has more holes and associated COVID-19 risks than players choosing to remain unvaccinated. 

The sad part about it is that Beasley eventually gets tired of the predictable backlash and then fires off defensive tweets that make his whole fight seem even more pathetic and vain. 

Leave it to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to offer to buy Beasley's wife stock in Pfizer if he gets vaccinated.

When half of the United States population remains unvaccinated for various reasons, people like Beasley who have made up their mind would do everyone a favor, including themselves, by owning the social and occupational consequences of their right of refusal. Their inability to analyze the issue from any angle other than their petulant personal beliefs means they'll always find a way to think they're right about it, and that's a position they can enjoy just as easily by not spreading misinformation. 

Not everything is life and death, but this actually is.