Buffalo Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie revealed he faces NFL discipline for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players by failing to wear a mask inside the team’s facility.
McKenzie wrote: “They got me! @NFL you win!” in a Thursday social media post in which he included a copy of the first page of a letter he received from the league informing him of the violation. It was McKenzie’s second violation; the league issued him a warning on July 27, a day before the Bills opened training camp.
Under league rules, the first offense for violating the protocols will result in a fine of $14,650. Repeat violations could result in a player being suspended or fined a week’s salary.
“It’s unfortunate when players get fined, right?” Bills coach Sean McDermott said Thursday of McKenzie’s discipline. “That being said, these rules have been agreed upon and in place and well communicated for some time. So it’s important for us that we focus on being safe and healthy, that’s No. 1, that’s always been No. 1, and then No. 2 is doing our best to stay focused on the goal and the purpose of why we’re here, which is to win football games.”
Since the start of training camp, the NFL has sent written warnings to roughly 120 players leaguewide and fined 25 players for refusal to wear a mask and/or Kinexon tracking device, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, per source.
The NFL wrote that McKenzie twice failed to wear a mask on Wednesday. The first violation came while he walked through the team’s fieldhouse to the trainer’s room, and the second was later in the day while he was in a meeting area of the weight room near other players.
The league also noted his violation came shortly after NFL staff made a presentation reminding players of the mask-wearing requirements and that penalties may result to players who fail to do so.
“For players who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, like you, your conduct is expressly prohibited by the protocols,” the NFL wrote. “Again, your conduct potentially compromised not only your safety, but the safety of others, as well as the league’s ability to ensure that your club’s training camp is conducted in a safe manner.”
McKenzie was sidelined on Wednesday and wore his left arm in a sling after being hurt in practice a day earlier.
His violation comes days after four Bills players were required to spend at least five days in self-quarantine after being deemed to have close contact with a trainer who tested positive for COVID-19.
The four players are receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis and defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Vernon Butler. All four tested negative on Tuesday, while general manager Brandon Beane said the trainer — who is vaccinated — is experiencing mild symptoms.
Beasley responded to McKenzie’s tweet Thursday, writing, “Don’t worry they got me too. But I was wearing a mask when I was in close contact with fully vaxxed trainer who tested positive and still got sent home. So what’s the point of the mask anyways? Meanwhile I’m here still testing negative and can’t come back. Make it make sense.”
Fellow Bills receiver Stefon Diggs noted in a following tweet, “15k is a lot of money lol…”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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