The Centers for Disease Control paid $3.5 million to the NFL Alumni Association with hopes of promoting the COVID vaccine.
The news was buried in a U.S. Federal Procurement report, which showed the big-money deal was signed in May, TMZ reports.
“The overall purpose of this contract is to facilitate collaboration among NFL Alumni and federal state and local public health officials as well as other local leaders to address vaccine hesitancy through communication and engagement with communities less likely to get vaccinated,” reads a Notice of Intent posted by the agency.
The total value of the contract is listed at $3.5 million, with the money earmarked for “NFL Alumni (NFLA) Health COVID-19 Vaccination Community Outreach and Education Project,” TMZ Sports reports.
The NFL Alumni was founded in 1967 by a group of retired football players and the organization’s current president is former NY Giants lineman, Bart Oates.
The NFL Alumni’s website features pro-COVID-19 vaccination testimonials from former NFL stars like Franco Harris, Rod Woodson and others.
The cash is part of a campaign by the federal government to stay ahead of the pandemic and the delta variant, which has caused spikes of infections in unvaccinated communities across the country, TMZ reports. The “about campaign” section of the website does not clearly list the financials at the time of publication.
News of the agreement with former players comes as many current players and coaches are unhappy about the NFL’s new COVID vaccination protocols, and most notably, Bills’ Cole Beasley asking the league for transparency.