MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins tight end Adam Shaheen, who spent several days this week on the NFL's COVID-19 list, said Saturday he is not vaccinated.
“You know, for me it’s a personal choice and it’s bigger than just COVID," Shaheen said. "I’m not going to elaborate further on that. The NFL is trying to push it. It’s no secret that they’ve been trying to push it on unvaccinated guys. You know what? 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’re not going to strong-arm me into doing something for more freedom when this is such a changing atmosphere and they’re already taking away freedoms of the unvaccinated guys. It was just a changing environment and, you know what, I’m going to keep my hands off and follow the rules that they put in place for me, but they’re not going to strong-arm myself into getting it. So, no.”
Shaheen said he did not test positive for COVID-19.
Tight end Mike Gesicki has missed extensive time recently on the COVID-19 list. Co-offensive coordinator George Godsey has also been absent for medical reasons.
On Shaheen's Twitter profile page, he identifies his location as "somewhere without a mask."
Shaheen said COVID-19 does not have him concerned for his health and safety. Shaheen was asked about his stance on masks.
“Belief about masks?" Shaheen said. "I mean, listen, I believe that we live in the greatest nation on the earth and 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, they say, all for it. No problem. But if I don’t want to, it shouldn’t be looked down upon when you don’t do one side or the other. I think that’s part of what I alluded to earlier, part of the bigger problem with this entire thing. With that said, same with the vaccine, I think it’s your choice."
Shaheen said that some took a motto written on his Twitter page the wrong way. On Shaheen's profile are the words: "I will not comply."
It was about guns, not vaccines, but guns, he said.
Shaheen said: “No, it’s actually more of a … I’m a big gun guy. It’s more of a Second Amendment thing from one of my favorite YouTube channels. I know I think it was taken that way. It is what it is.”
More than 85 percent of the Dolphins have received a vaccination and more than 90 percent of players league-wide have reportedly done the same. Players who are unvaccinated must regularly test and face more restrictions from the league.
"This is a business," Shaheen said. "And from their point of view, they want us to play every game. Absolutely. I get that. And they’re trying to do everything they can. With 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 and, you know what, we’ll take it one day at a time.”
Shaheen has two years and $4.85 million left on his Dolphins contract. Miami gave Shaheen an extension after acquiring him from the Bears. Next week, Shaheen will practice against his former team, which drafted him in the second round out of Ashland (Ohio) University in 2017.
"I'm excited," he said. "Got traded here right before training camp and got the extension last year. So I'm excited to go back up there and compete in the old stomping grounds."
Shaheen is fully aware that Miami's tight ends room is incredibly deep, with Gesicki, Shaheen, Hunter Long, Durham Smythe and Cethan Carter.
"We have a lot of talent across the board," Shaheen said. "I think that's what we're out here right doing in training camp, is out here to earn those opportunities this season."
Shaheen said the biggest problem his career didn't work out in Chicago was injuries. He feels he's as healthy and playing as well as he ever has.
"For me, just the game has slowed down completely," Shaheen said. "This is Year 5 and it doesn't feel as all over the place and lost as I was those first couple of years. So it's improvement and that's a lot of credit to the organization and how well they are doing for us as a staff."
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Dolphins' Adam Shaheen not vaccinated, won't let NFL 'strong-arm' him