Bucs tailback Leonard Fournette won't rule out vaccine, wants to learn more

Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Football

TAMPA, Fla. — Now that the NFL’s once-stringent rules on jersey numbers have been relaxed, “Playoff Lenny” has been reborn.

At least aesthetically. No. 7, previously reserved for quarterbacks, now is being brandished by a 228-pound downhill tailback who last wore it at LSU.

“I’m happy,” Leonard Fournette said.

Yet as the Bucs’ training camp dawned on a sweltering Sunday morning at AdventHealth Training Center, that single digit — and the player wearing it — were conspicuous in a whole different sense.

Fournette, who posted (then quickly deleted) a tweet Thursday expressing his unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, reiterated his stance Sunday, but didn’t rule out receiving it upon learning more about its potential long-term impacts.

“I don’t know too much about it,” said Fournette, who signed another one-year deal with the Bucs after a sparkling postseason in which he ran for 300 yards and had 18 receptions.


“I know a lot of people who got the shot still wound up getting the corona. It’s day by day. I’m going to take it week by week, talk to the doctors and try to figure out what’s best for myself and the team.”

While indicating he has received support from teammates and coaches regarding his decision, Fournette’s choice puts him in diametric contrast to his head coach. Bruce Arians has said he will fine any unvaccinated player $14,000 on the spot for every time he isn’t wearing a mask or is violation any of the rigid COVID-19 protocols set forth by the NFL for unvaccinated players.

He also indicated he believes the team’s percentage of vaccinated players will be around 85 percent — by final cutdowns.

“(The coronavirus) is always on your mind anymore,” Arians said after Sunday’s inaugural training camp workout.


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