Cole Beasley recalls how things changed after declining vaccines

Cole Beasley’s plan right now is to does not Retire.

That’s the first thing you should know, despite him sort of retiring after a few games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and not producing as hoped with the Buffalo Bills when he returned later in the season.

“I train on the 21st [of July],” Beasley said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with OutKick. “I won’t say who because I don’t know if they want me to mention it right now. That’s why I’m here. Prepared for it. And trying to stay ready.”

Free Agent receiver Cole Beasley works out in preparation for the upcoming workout with the NFL team. (Photo by Armando Salguero).

Cole Beasley workout to workout

Beasley is working out in Orlando with former Bills teammates Matt Milano and Gabe Davis at the new Draft Academy training and recovery facility Davis opened Tuesday.

He expects to be in top shape for that workout and is optimistic the opportunity will lead to a contract that gets him on a roster in time for the opening of training camp.

What’s more interesting is that Beasley hasn’t lost his taste for the NFL at 34 despite his experiences the past few seasons. And at least one team hasn’t eliminated him from their free agent list based on his reputation as a man unwilling to sacrifice his convictions in exchange for roster security.

NFL teams, you see, mostly like players who shut up and play.

And Beasley certainly didn’t in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cole Beasley was one of the top weapons for the Bills in 2019 and 2020.
Cole Beasley of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 24, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Treatment in Buffalo changed to Cole Beasley

Unlike a majority of players, Beasley declined to be vaccinated with any of the first shots and several boosters that have since been shown to be ineffective in immunizing someone against Covid-19.

Beasley instead faced a wave of pressure to get shots. And it had consequences.

“Buffalo changed for me after that,” Beasley said. “It was different in the organization, it was different in the facility, and it was different with the fans. I left, like, my first year there, I loved Buffalo, and I found my love for football again there. And I appreciated that on. But once Covid hit, all that kind of changed.”

Beasley’s production didn’t drop in the first year of the pandemic in 2020. It actually improved from his first year in Buffalo in 2019.

But in 2021, when the vaccines came online and players, coaches, staff and others were pressured (some at risk of not being allowed to work) to take shots, the atmosphere changed for Beasley.

Because Cole Beasley didn’t want to take shots.

“And it’s all politics. It’s crazy,” Beasley said. “It’s almost like they forgot who I was before that. I don’t know, there was just a big change after that. It was kind of rough for me after that.”

Cole Beasley was supported and loved by his Buffalo Bills teammates.
Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills celebrates with Cole Beasley after throwing an 11 yard touchdown pass against the Las Vegas Raiders in the second quarter of the game at Allegiant Stadium on October 4, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Bill’s teammates didn’t abandon Beasley

Beasley says the change didn’t come from other players. “Never teammates,” he said. “The teammates are always supportive. Most of them are on my side anyway, for people like you who might be wondering.”

But Beasley saw changes in how he was treated and perceived among fans and other people in the organization.

“I mean, the fans are one thing, but the people in the building are another thing,” Beasley said. “It affected me more than the fans. I’ve always dealt with fans giving me [crap]even in Dallas. So that was something I could relate to. But when you start to see changes in the organization, with how people treat you there, it’s a different deal.”

The irony is that Beasley’s vaccine reluctance was not misplaced. The CDC ultimately deemed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ineffective and stopped its use in the United States when supplies ran out. Pfizer and Moderna monovalent vaccines used in 2021 was taken off the market by the FDA.

India, a country of approximately 1.4 billion people, banned the Pfizer vaccine in general.

The NFL announced in the spring of 2022 that it would no longer require any Covid-19 vaccines for anyone.

Cole Beasley - Tom Brady's teammate - retires after two games to spend time with family.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cole Beasley catches a pass before the regular season game between the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 25, 2022 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Do teams view Beasley differently?

So does Beasley feel vindicated?

“I do,” he said. “But there are still some people out there who say I’m still wrong. I don’t know how. Everyone always says you’re not a doctor, you shouldn’t give advice. I didn’t give advice. I just said I wouldn’t do it. You know what I mean?

“I just said it wasn’t right to force people to do it. But I didn’t say don’t take it. It is what it is and I feel like I made the right decision. I’m not criticizing anyone else’s decision either to do what they feel.”

Beasley’s public stance could have hurt his standing in Buffalo in 2021. And he acknowledges speaking his mind could have hurt his career. It may even continue to hurt.

“You never know for sure, but I don’t think any organization, or at least the one I was playing for at the time, liked me doing that,” Beasley said. “They certainly didn’t. So I just assume other organizations feel the same way. They like guys to be quiet and not say anything and go with the flow. And I haven’t been a guy to do it at times. So it definitely works against me a little bit.”

For the record, that’s not who Beasley was during his nine pre-vaccine NFL seasons.

“I’m not really a guy who likes to get involved in politics,” he said. “I’ve never been my whole career until that one problem. But when it starts to affect how I’m going to live my life, that’s a problem for me. Especially when none of it really makes sense at the time.

“And then how they treated other guys who felt the same way as me, who came in undrafted… I was an undrafted guy, so I felt for those guys. And they didn’t even get an opportunity if they didn’t did it.

“So it was just an issue that I had to attack at that time and speak up for those who really couldn’t speak up for themselves.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Leave a Comment