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The MRC Adds Another Sports Anti-Vaxxer

Newly minted Media Research Center sports blogger John Simmons has joined Jay Maxson in lashing out at COVID vaccines and vaccine mandates, as well as defending athletes who hurt their team by refusing to get vaccinated.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/10/2022

The mysterious Jay Maxson is not the only Media Research Center sports blogger who has been embracing COVID anti-vaxxer attitudes. Meet the latest addition to the MRC's sports-blogger lineup, John Simmons. Not only is Simmons just as mysterious -- like Maxson, he has no apparent media presence outside of the NewsBusters blog where his posts appear, though unlike with Maxson, we'll presume from the first name that Simmons is a male -- he echoes Maxson's vaccine-bashing.

Simmons' second-ever item at the MRC was an Aug. 27 post complaining that at British soccer coach urged his players to get vaccinated:

However, a vaccine will never guarantee that a disease will go away. After all, people who got the flu vaccine before the COVID outbreak could still get the flu at a later date. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from season to season and further varies from person to person depending on age, health status, body type, and other factors.


In the end, COVID might be something that just becomes some new sickness we have to deal with as part of our daily lives. But to say that athletes must take the vaccine in order to fully protect themselves against is is absurd in every sense.

But COVID is not the flu, and it's a testament to Simmons' willful ignorance that he wants you to believe it is.

The next day, Simmons turned his attention to American football:

Imagine a world in which a professional athlete – in peak physical shape -- could be ridiculed and punished for not taking an experimental vaccine for a disease with a minimal death rate.

Sounds too ridiculous to actually happen, right? Well, not exactly.

Bills wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Cole Beasley already been punished by the NFL under it's ridiculous mandates. On Thursday, the NFL fined Beasley for an infraction, with the star wideout saying on Twitter that he was “disciplined for not wearing a mask for ‘literally 5 steps’ from the entry door to the locker room after wearing it ‘the whole day.’”


The NFL has gone far overboard in creating and enforcing mask mandates. In June, the NFL said that vaccinated players will only have to get tested once every two weeks and will not have to quarantine if exposed through contact tracing, while unvaccinated players will be tested every day and will have to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who had COVID.

Think that’s absurd? Just wait.

The fines for violating the NFL’s protocols could average $14,650 per infraction. That includes an unvaccinated player attending an indoor bar or nightclub or attending an indoor concert or entertainment event. A fine of up to $50,000 applies to more serious violations, such as a player failing to cooperate with an investigation into protocol compliance.

In fact, the COVID vaccines are not "experimental" --the Pfizer vaccine was officially approved by the FDA five days before Simmons' post. But Simmons still wasn't done with the anti-vaxx whining:

Football athletes are some of the most physically fit people on the planet. They eat healthy, train for hours every day, and have vast medical resources at their disposal. Of all people, they should be able to fight COVID-19 effectively without taking a vaccine, let alone being punished if they don’t.

The NFL has turned into a microcosm of what is happening in our country today: segregation of “good and bad people” based of vaccination status and beating into submission those who will not comply with their rules.

NFL players who have not been vaccinated should stay strong and do not cave to the fearmongering wackos running the league. If they don’t want the jab, they shouldn’t have to take it, plain and simple.

Simmons complained more about vaccine mandates in pro football in a Sept. 2 post, repeating his bogus COVID-is-the-flu argument and gushing over players being perfect physical specimens before huffing that a team's decision to cut players based on their vaccine status is the exact same thing as racism:

Let it be said again, there is reason a professional athletes may not need to take the vaccine. One gander at a sideline of athletes – especially football athletes – are some of the most physically in-shape individuals on the planet. Furthermore, the NFL dedicates an ungodly amount of medical resources to ensure that their players stay healthy, so combining that with their incredible physical health and you have a demographic of people who should be the least concerned about their vaccination status.

The CDC has said that a vaccine’s effectiveness varies from season to season and person to person in terms of helping prevent sickness. So if the COVID vaccine- which has only been tested for months and not years-is just like any other vaccine, then it would be foolish for any sports team to make cuts based on something that has not been proven effective -such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the past, teams wrongfully used to make personnel decisions over skin color. Thankfully, we have moved past this foolish determinant of whether or not to allow an athlete to play a sport. But now, it seems we are reverting back to our old ways of discriminating against people and making them appear as second-rate citizens, this time based on someone’s medical history.

There is truly nothing new under the sun.

That statement also applies to absurd right-wing comparisons.

On Sept. 22, Simmons gushed over unvaccinated NFL Buffalo Bills player Cole Beasley for offering to buy tickets for unvaccinated Bills fans to road games, since the home stadium requires fans to be vaccinated: "In a world where burning buildings and shaming white people has become a widely accepted form of protesting against something we disagree with, this is the type of demonstration you like to see, especially from someone with a platform as big as Beasley’s. ... If only the NFL would support protesting like this, and not demonstrations that disrespect our national anthem or supporting organizations that burn down cities and promote radical ideology.

In a Sept. 27 post, Simmons frowned on the NBA's Golden State Warriors refusing to give player Andrew Wiggins a religious exemption, adding, "Wiggins has not been clear what religion he follows, but the type of religion shouldn’t matter in this situation."He didn't mention the highly relevant fact that no major religious denomination opposes vaccination, and that many people lie about having "religious" objections to vaccines. Nevertheless, he lectured:

To many of us, the most important element of life is our religion. It influences every decision we make and helps guide our conscience in matters of right and wrong. Our Constitution protects the individual’s right to practice the freedom of religion, one of the many things that make this country so special. Unfortunately, the NBA and the city of San Francisco don’t care about people’s religious beliefs.


This should be another warning sign to Americans as to the depths to which our government and business leaders have stooped to force people to conform to what the government says. Every totalitarian or communist government in history has sought to persecute those who do not view the government as the Almighty power on Earth. When you don’t comply, your life will become miserable, and they will start stripping away elements of your freedom and your values until you finally give in. That is what America is now viewing as acceptable.

Do people have a constitutional right to infect others with a potentially deadly virus? Simmons didn't say.

In an Oct. 13 post, Simmons cheered NBA star Kyrie Irving for refusing to get vaccinated and standing up the vaccine mandate of the supposedly evil NBA, even though he's being selfish and harming his team by doing so:

Irving is on point; his perception is not wrong. The NBA is trying to use their power and influence to get people to be vaccinated, and they are threatening to take away their employees’ livelihood in the process (while Irving is already a millionaire, he will lose an estimated $380,000 for every game he doesn’t play).

What we see in the NBA and with Irving’s situation is an extension of what we see in our nation at large, and Irving is perfectly in the right to protest the vaccine mandate. He and any others who stand against it will be ridiculed, but hopefully, enough will stand against it to create change.

Until then, we can only hope Irving will not cave to the pressure of getting the jab.

The following week, Simmons defended Irving's selfishness when notorious individual Charles Barkley called Irving out on it:

Cleveland Clinic infectious disease specialist Lyssette Cardona, MD, said that there is still a chance that vaccinated people could get COVID-19, which means that you can still spread it to anyone you meet. Can it help your immune system in the physical battle against COVID? Sure. But is it a magical cure that will remove sickness for good? No.

So “getting it for other people” seems like a weak argument to use when criticizing another person for their decision. This argument is emotion-driven and not based on the reality that no matter what decision we all make, sickness and COVID-19 are just a byproduct of an imperfect world, and there is nothing we can do to fully eliminate it.

It sounds like anyone who uses this reasoning, including Barkley, is simply too scared of being sick to continue to live a normal life, and further needs everyone else to cater to their emotional needs. And that is more selfish than someone not getting the COVID jab because of personal preference.

Getting a vaccine is simply a matter of personal choice, nothing more, nothing less. Kyrie Irving is perfectly within his rights as an individual to not get the vaccine, and no one should coerce him into changing his mind, not even the great Round Mound of Rebound.

On Oct. 19, Simmons had a sad that Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich was fired for not getting vaccinated, again portraying selfishness as individualism (apparently forgetting there's no I in team):

The beauty of individual autonomy is that you should have the freedom to make a decision without explaining why you did something, especially not the vaccine mob that apparently has a stronghold in Washington State’s government and colleges. Whether it is a vaccine mandate, our religion, our career paths, or where we live, we have the ability to choose and not be scrutinized for those decisions.

Rolovich and his assistant may have lost their jobs because of this, but they have chosen to value their freedom than comfort, something that will pay dividends in the long run.

Simmons found another selfish person to tout in an Oct. 22 post:

It’s been quite a week for Allison Williams. An ESPN college basketball and football reporter for 10 years, she quit the network last week because she declined to get vaccinated, and ESPN rejected her request for an accommodation. On Thursday, Williams did an interview with Megyn Kelly on her eponymous SiriusXM show, Williams criticized the president and others easily given to dismiss our freedom via COVID-19 vaccination mandates. And on Friday it was announced she’s joining the conservative Daily Signal.

During said interview, Kelly asked Williams about President Joe Biden (stupidly) remarking last month that the vaccine mandate “isn’t about your freedom.” Williams torched him for throwing freedom under the bus:

Because right-wingers like Williams and Simmons have decided that personal convenience is more important than public health, apparently.

Simmons dredged up an old complaint about the very name of the virus in a Oct. 27 post, complaining that Houston Texans chairman Cal McNair got busted for calling COVID the "China virus" and huffing, "Isn’t it a pathetic state of affairs in our country when anytime someone claims the facts of the situation they are deemed as racist and insensitive?" Of course, given that COVID is a well-established name, there's really no legitimate reason outside of racism or insensitivity to call it the "China virus."

Simmons found another pregnant sports reporter who claimed to be a victim of a vaccine mandate to tout in a Nov. 16 post:

In the book of Daniel, three young men by the name of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace after refusing to worship a gargantuan golden god created and instituted by the tyrannical King of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar. While we don’t have a government that is forcing Christians to bow to idols of metal, Christians are increasingly being punished for not bowing to the god of COVID.

Teryn Gregson was a PGA Tour host and reporter as of Monday but was terminated after the company refused to provide her a religious exemption from it's testing and mask mandates for unvaccinated employees.

Gregson, who is an outspoken Christian and is also carrying a child, made an emotional online speech detailing her viewpoint on the vaccine and mandates in general:

Meanwhile, it has since been proven that the COVID vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their children, and that they face more health risks by remaining unvaccinated. Simmons has not updated either post to reflect this accurate medical information.

Further, Simmons censored the fact that the PGA said in response it didn't have a vaccine mandate and, thus, no reason for Gregson to seek an exemption, though it does have health and safety protocols and PGA employees in Florida were required to report to work in person starting Nov. 1 after working from home since the pandemic began. Finally, we thought facts-not-feelings right-wingers like Simmons weren't supposed to be swayed by an "emotional online speech."

Simmons concluded his post by melodramatically rehashing the Bible theme: "In the Bible, the three men were rewarded for their loyalty to God by surviving being thrown into the fiery furnace. Hopefully, Gregson will experience a similar experience of salvation from her enemies in the near future."

Two days later, Simmons lashed out NFL safety protocols:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the NFL is instituting a COVID-19 safety policy that makes no sense whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the latest chapter in the NFL’s COVID insanity novel is being written, as the NFL will now require stricter COVID-19 protocols for players once they return from Thanksgiving.

It’s the standard craziness you’ve heard before for players and staff once they return from the holiday: increased testing and mask-wearing, with all football personnel required to be tested the Monday and Wednesday after Thanksgiving and mask-wearing at all team facilities from November 25 to December 1, regardless of vaccination status.


The overreaching, nonsensical, and fear-based protocols the NFL has implemented throughout the year have ignored science, disregarded personal choice, and divided the league between the good (vaccinated) and bad (unvaccinated) people. While the new memo is simply a reflection of the insanity that has ruled the league, it is still disheartening to see the NFL trying to exercise its power over families and encroach on the holidays.

The emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant a few weeks later would seem to make the NFL's protocols prescient rather than oppressive.

Simmons went full anti-vaxxer in a Dec. 2 post expressing glee that NBA star LeBron James tested positive for COVID, with a little backhanded sympathy thrown in:

The Left has championed the COVID-19 vaccine as the magical potion by which we can all be saved from ever having to deal with the effects of the virus again. However, LeBron James showed us on Wednesday that is not entirely true.


Despite being a public figure who has a knack for saying things he shouldn’t (i.e. criticizing Kyle Rittenhouse for crying during his trial) and for being silent on China’s forced labor camps, it is sad to see that athletes like James are still put through unnecessary precautions to protect against the virus. Men in their peak physical prime should not have to wait 10 days to get back to work just so others can feel safe. No one would blame Michael Jordan – who played one of the best games of his career with the flu – for being disgusted with how soft the league has become.

It is also ironic that a vaccinated player is the one who contracted the virus. Yes, it continues to prove the point that jabbing yourself does not automatically guarantee that you’ll be safe from ever getting COVID again (which is what people with a shred of common sense have been saying all along).

But it also would be nice if the vaccine worked as advertised. If you believe that taking the vaccine is the most logical way to protect yourself against the virus, by all means, take it.


James’ situation should be another reminder that we should not blindly take the vaccine because the government says so. Do your research, draw your own conclusions, make a decision, and live with the results, but do not take the jab just because the government tells you to.

There was no mention of the fact that the Omicron variant is much more contagious than previous variants, and that while the vaccines are less effective at preventing infection from Omicron, they do make it much more likely that you will get severely ill or die from an infection.

Nevertheless, Simmons lashed out against vaccines again in a Dec. 14 post:

The NFL seems to think that vaccinating their employees out of the wazoo is going to solve all their problems and make COVID cases go down or disappear. The NFL had 37 positive tests yesterday, which is high because those numbers reflect the results of the vaccinated players and personnel, who only get tested once per week. Ironic that vaccinated team personnel is still showing multiple cases of getting sick with COVID; it’s almost like the vaccine does not work as advertised.

But enough with the right-winged conspiracy talk, let’s talk about how the guardians of society in the NFL are handling the situation.


The NFL should have taken a lesson from this situation: vaccination does not equal ultimate safety. It might lower the number of cases and give them peace of mind for a little bit, but it does not solve the root problem of living life with COVID.

Injecting booster shots won’t take it away and firing “un-boosted” employees won’t solve the problem, just ask the 37 people whose Mondays got off to a worse start than most of ours. We live in a COVID world now, and we have to stop acting like it’s a disease we know nothing about and that savagely destroys the majority of our country’s population.

Again, Simmons failed to mention how contagious Omicron is.

On Dec. 23, Simmons complained that sports commentators complained about NBA star Kyrie Irving -- whom Simmons previously praised for being an anti-vaxxer despite his selfishness in harming his team -- was being allowed to play again despite remaining unvaccinated. He went on to cheer that "it seems like Irving, who was widely criticized by sports talking heads and writers alike, will get the last laugh."

In a Dec. 27 post, Simmons gushed over pro golfer Phil Mickelson for "not buying into the Left's fear-mongering" and asking in a tweet why, since Omicron purportedly hadn't been killing anyone, we shouldn't let COVID run amok and let "natural immunity" take its course, adding: "Mickelson naturally received a lot of flack for having a level of common sense, but he’s onto something. If this is a disease that has symptoms comparable to the common cold and has a far lower death rate than the first edition of COVID-19, why is there so much panic surrounding it?" Simmons didn't mention all the sensible answers Mickelson got in response to his query; instead, he declared, "Mickelson is right in saying that if the disease is so low risk, we should just trust that our bodies will adapt to the sickness and protect us naturally. But since there is no money for or control in this approach, he will likely be dismissed as irrational."

In that same post, Simmons again unusually praised James, this time for posting a meme to his Instagram page equating COVID, flu and the common cold, asserting that "just this once his thoughts were trending in the right direction." In fact, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called out James' false conflation of those viruses and demonstrated how he was wrong. But Simmons was much more happy with sports figures spouting medically inaccurate right-wing talking points on COVID:

Yes, people have died from COVID, which is a sad and unfortunate reality of the past two years. But the reality is that a majority of people are not seriously affected by COVID in the long run and the symptoms are mild in most cases. Shutting down our businesses, sports leagues, and our entire country – all while living in fear – will accomplish no good.

Mickelson and Lebron get it. The question is, when will the rest of us?

Well over 800,000 people were "seriously affected" by COVID through being killed by it. Meanwhile, more than half the people who catch it suffer from "long COVID" -- symptoms that persist for at least six months after recovering from the virus. That sounds like they're being "seriously affected," but Simmons will never admit it.

We get it. The question is, when will Simmons? Not anytime soon, that's for sure. He spent a Jan. 4 post lamenting that a DJ was being blamed for passing COVID to soccer superstar Lionel Messi: "It truly takes an idiotic individual to cry for someone’s head over potentially giving someone a non-life-threatening sickness."

The 6 million people who have died of COVID worldwide may want to take exception to Simmons' insistence that COVID is "non-life-threatening."

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