Browns' JC Tretter Says NFL Trying to 'Shame' Unvaccinated Players With 'Scarlet Marking'

Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, the president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), said he feels NFL is attempting to "shame" unvaccinated players with a "scarlet marking."

The NFL has urged teams to adopt a policy that would differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated players through differently colored wristbands. Tretter called the league's policy "nonsensical," saying it was an attempt to push players into getting vaccinated by publicly shaming them.

"So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everybody on the field, and that shouldn't be the case because it's unnecessary," he said. "We all know who's vaccinated, who's not, and it doesn't need to be a scarlet marking on peoples' helmets or wrists."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Browns' center JC Tretter
The Cleveland Browns' JC Tretter says he feels the NFL is attempting to "shame" unvaccinated players through a "scarlet marking." Above, Tretter prepares to hike the ball during a January 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cleveland. Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Tretter, who took office last year as the coronavirus pandemic was in its early stages, said Thursday he's thankful the Browns didn't adopt the wristband policy, and he blasted the league for some other measures.

He said it's easy to identify who isn't vaccinated because those choosing not to get the shots are required masks and follow other protocols.

"They say they need a differentiator between unvaccinated and vaccinated players, we already have a differentiator," Tretter said. "The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports leagues use any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband because they know it's not necessary and the teams know who's vaccinated and not vaccinated."

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said the team decided against the wristbands, which are being worn at some other training camps.

"We're not dividing the team over this issue," Stefanski said.

Tretter was previously critical about the league recently issuing a memo telling teams that if there is a virus outbreak among unvaccinated players, games will be forfeited and players will not be paid. The NFLPA said when that policy was announced that "the same basic rules applied last year."

"The only difference this year is the NFL's decision to impose additional penalties on clubs which are responsible for the outbreak and the availability of proven vaccines," the NFLPA told its members in an email. "The protocols we jointly agreed to helped get us through a full season last year without missing game checks and are effective, when followed."

Tretter said with cases increasing in some areas around the country due to the Delta variant, it's essential for the league and union to cooperate.

"Last year it wasn't perfect, but we worked well together because we needed to and because we needed everybody to buy in and do the right things in order to get through a season," Tretter said. "This year, this is not going to be easy again. We're going to need to really rely on a lot of things we did last year and that continues with meeting the protocols but also the way we worked together.

"We don't want to lose checks, we want to keep people healthy, they don't want to lose revenue and they want to keep people healthy. So we have the same goals, it's about executing that."

JC Tretter
JC Tretter runs during practice at the Cleveland Browns' training facility in Berea, Ohio, on June 15. David Dermer, File/AP Photo