Bucs head coach Bruce Arians began his press conference on Tuesday by ripping a report on Pro Football Talk – without specifically naming the media outlet – regarding the team’s use of red and yellow wristbands to identify those players who are vaccinated and unvaccinated against COVID-19.
“All right, one thing before we get started,” Arians said. “If I give you some information, at least know the fucking rules before you put them in press. Red and yellow bands. They don’t have to wear them in practice. That’s indoors. I’ve got to read shit that we should be fined for red and yellow bands because they ain’t got them on at practice. That’s bullshit. If you’re going report shit, make sure it’s fucking right.”
Arians’ rant stemmed from a report on PFT on Sunday, July 25, in which the media outlet was told by the Tampa Bay organization that the team would be using red wristbands to indicate vaccinated and yellow wristbands to indicate unvaccinated players.
The Buccaneers have informed PFT that the Super Bowl LV champions will be using two different wristbands at practice to distinguish vaccinated players from unvaccinated players. According to the team, vaccinate[d] players will wear red wristbands and unvaccinated players will wear yellow wristbands.
As the Bucs begin practicing today, photos inevitably will emerge from the session — and many will be looking for the yellow wristbands. (It’s hard to spot them, if they’re even there, in practice videos posted by the team on social media.)
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
In Tampa, the team has said vaccinated players will wear a red wristband and unvaccinated players will wear a yellow wristband. Photos emerging from Sunday’s practice reveal plenty of players with red wristbands, such as tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Mike Evans. For some players, no wristband can be seen.
Quarterback Tom Brady had no wristband. Neither did quarterback Blaine Gabbert or quarterback Kyle Trask.
Running back Leonard Fournette, who has made it clear that he’s not vaccinated, had no wristband, either.
It’s unclear what any of it means, other than the intended procedures apparently aren’t being completely adhered to, yet.
We asked the Buccaneers about that specific wrinkle, and we were not told at any time for example, “Wait, that only applies in the facility, not on the practice field.”
I don’t want to call anyone out by name (yet). By here’s the simple truth — I asked the questions, I received the answers, I reported the answers accurately, and I have the text messages to prove ALL of it. The text messages reveal multiple opportunities to tell me that the wristbands are worn only in the facility and not at practice. That was never said.
Also, we never said the Buccaneers should be fined over the issue of wristbands. Of course, they should have been fined (at a minimum) last year for tampering with Tom Brady while he was under contract with the Patriots. They also should be fined (at a minimum) for hiding Tom Brady’s knee injury on every report that submitted to the league in 2020. But we never said they should be fined over the wristband issue.
So, to summarize, we made sure what we reported was right before reporting it. More specifically, we asked the right people within the organization for the information, and we used what we received. If Arians has an issue with what we reported, he should ask specific questions internally before taking reckless shots externally.
On Monday, PFT reported that NFLPA president JC Tretter did not agree with any team’s usage of wristbands for the purposes of identifying vaccinated or unvaccinated players.
“We do not agree to them and think they are unnecessary,” Tretter said.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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