MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As the debate about vaccinations wages on headed into a second pandemic-minded NFL season, Miami Dolphins tight end Adam Shaheen was candid with the media Saturday that he won't let the league "strong-arm" him into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Two days after being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, Shaheen said he "never had" the virus but admitted that he hasn't been vaccinated either.
Apparently, not even a stint on the team's inactive list is going to change his mind.
"For me, it's a personal choice and it's bigger than just COVID," Shaheen told reporters after Saturday's practice. "I'm not going to elaborate further on that. There is -- the NFL has been trying to push it. It is no secret that they've been trying to push it on unvaccinated guys. I'm going to continue to go through the protocols of the unvaccinated that they make me do. I'm not going to get fined. But they are not going to strong-arm me into doing something for more freedom when this is such a changing atmosphere and they are already taking away freedoms of unvaccinated guys."
Shaheen joined the Dolphins last season after being traded from Chicago. He played in all 16 games for Miami a season ago, catching 12 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
But the fifth-year NFL player is competing with five other tight ends for a spot on the final roster in 2021. The chances that all six make the team are unlikely.
Is Shaheen concerned that his job could be in jeopardy?
"This is a business and from their point of view, they want us to play all the games," he said. "Absolutely, I get that. They are trying to do everything they can. That being said, for us to go and push more protocols than we had last year is beyond me. But, like I said, I'm going to do what they ask and require of me and that's going to be that. We'll take it one day at a time."
Shaheen was also asked about the location marker on his Twitter profile, which reads, "Somewhere without a mask."
"Listen, I believe we live in the greatest nation on the earth," Shaheen said. "I think from the start, it's been about people's choice. If you want to wear a mask and protect yourself and those around you, like they say, I'm all for it. No problem. If I don't want to, I'm all for -- it shouldn't be -- in my opinion, it shouldn't be looked down upon when you don't do one side or the other."
His stance comes at a time when the debate about whether or not to wear a mask has divided the country. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted any sort of statewide COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates.
"We really believe that individuals know how to best assess their risk," DeSantis said Friday during a news conference in Port St. Lucie. "We trust them to be able to make those decisions."
Shaheen seems to agree.
"I think it's your choice and that's really all, I think, that needs to be said," Shaheen said.