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Three NFL players with Super Bowl rings hosting Fargodome vaccine education event

NFL Alumni Association president Bart Oates and his five pro titles will talk 'to anyone, anywhere'

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The NFL A.lumni Association is spearheading a COVID-19 vaccination drive in the lobby of the Fargodome Saturday before North Dakota State hosts South Dakota. Forum file photo
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FARGO — Former NFL offensive lineman Bart Oates has five title rings, three of the Super Bowl variety. He’s not sure how many he’ll bring to the Fargodome on Saturday morning; he joked it depends on how many he can get through airport security.

What is not funny to the Oates and his NFL Alumni Association is the COVID-19 pandemic. So the group is taking its message of having a conversation about the vaccine on the road and that includes Saturday morning in the lobby of the Fargodome. It will offer free vaccinations from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. before North Dakota State hosts the University of South Dakota at 2:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary and those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“It just makes sense, we want to go where the people are and they have the opportunity to get vaccinated if they want to, but also it’s more about a dialogue quite frankly,” Oates said. “A dialogue about hey, what are the pros, what are the cons; make an educated decision.”

Oates and former players Billy Davis and Kyle Richardson will be on hand to talk football and sign autographs.

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The aim is to promote COVID-19 vaccination confidence, a campaign that is hitting 20 NFL Alumni chapter cities and regions. The NFL Alumni Health, Sanford Health, North Dakota Department of Health and South Dakota Department of Health are hosting the Fargodome event.

“I’m an old offensive lineman, I’ll talk to anyone, anywhere,” Oates said. “The significance is the message is important wherever we can get an audience of large people and hopefully get their attention. And we also like football so we plan on watching some football, too.”

Oates was on two championship teams in the USFL in 1984 and 1985. He has three Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants in 1987 and 1991 and the San Francisco 49ers in 1995. He was selected to five Pro Bowl teams.

Davis, a wide receiver, played with the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys from 1995-2000. He has a Super Bowl ring each from the Ravens and Cowboys. Richardson played 10 years in the NFL including the Minnesota Vikings in 2002. He was also on Davis’ Ravens team that won a Super Bowl.

That’s a lot of glitter that will be in the dome lobby.

The NFL Alumni Association, not to be confused with the NFL Players Association, does not actively take a stance on issues with the current players and its vaccination policies. The mission for the alumni, which has 40 chapters all run by former players, is more about their communities and kids.

Saturday’s appearance is part of that mission. It’s been working on vaccination events for the last eight months in partnership with the Center for Disease Control.

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“I think it’s been good, are we 100%? No,” Oates said. “We get letters from some of our members who are very upset. They don’t quite understand, they think we’re forcing people to get vaccinated. That’s not what we’re saying, not at all. We’re saying, hey, let’s have a discussion. If you’re hesitant, make an informed decision. There are a lot of reasons not to get vaccinated, but make sure it’s the right decision for you, your situation, your health, and for your family and community.”

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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