Edmonton Elks star running back James Wilder Jr. is tired of hiding.
The CFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage through Week 11 of the season confirmed on Twitter that he’s unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Crazy how many players reached out to me thanking me for speaking up. Sad we’re in a league where MOST KEY players have to hide their beliefs and some are going against their belief to please owners with their own body because we let politics into our sport! I’ll never be that person!
Been nothing but respectful to fans and the people of Edmonton. Left my children behind and prisoned myself in a house for a few months to sacrifice to help win a championship for the city of Edmonton!!!! Please respect my sacrifice and decision for me and my family!!!
The Elks suffered the league’s first and only coronavirus outbreak so far, which occurred in August causing the postponement of their game in Toronto. In total, a league-leading 17 Edmonton players have entered protocol for the virus this season.
The 29-year-old has rushed 125 times for 675 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns along with 27 receptions for 224 yards and one major in nine games during the current 2021 season.
Wilder Jr. had previously retired from the CFL because of uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season that would eventually end up being cancelled due to the concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Montreal Alouettes signed Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract for that 2020 season. He requested and received his release from the Toronto Argonauts in late November after playing 14 games for the double blue in 2019, the final year of his contract.
The six-foot-three, 232-pound back began his CFL career as a member of the Toronto Argonauts. In his first season, the running back recorded 872 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while adding 467 yards receiving on his way to CFL Most Outstanding Rookie honours. In his CFL career, Wilder has accumulated 3,514 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns.
Prior to coming north of the border, Wilder Jr. spent two seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals practice roster and had a stint with the Buffalo Bills. The same season Wilder Jr. signed with the Argos, Trestman was the bench boss following his time with the Chicago Bears.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in August that he wishes he could mandate that players get vaccinated, but is unable to due to the league’s collective bargaining agreement.