With training camp just around the corner, the NFL is making some steady progress in getting its players vaccinated against the Coronavirus. According to a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, eight teams have so far crossed the 85-percent threshold the league is aiming at.
Teams who have more than 85 percent of their players vaccinated will have to manage fewer restrictions once they open their camps later that month. In total more than 71 percent of players around the league have received at least one Covid-19 shot.
While it is not known at this point in time whether or not the New England Patriots are among those eight teams — the league and its organizations are not making the information public — head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged last month that his team would be heading in the right direction as well.
“That’s really being handled by the medical, but I know we’ve got quite a few guys,” Belichick said. “I couldn’t really give you a percentage or whatever, but the number’s increasing and we’ll just continue to work through the process.”
The Patriots, as long snapper Joe Cardona has pointed out, have encouraged players to get vaccinated and are actively trying to educate players about the benefits of vaccination.
“To have an organization as a whole and a locker room that prioritizes science over misinformation or whatever else is out there and presents the facts to us players in a concise manner and addresses concerns regarding vaccination, regarding whatever concerns a player has been really great to be a part of,” Cardona said during a recent media conference call.
“You see guys that have concerns; ask about it; it gets addressed; they get to talk to an expert in the field. Whether a mind changes or not, at least they have the facts presented to them. Our staff, our athletic training staff has been a great resource for everybody.”
While a majority of the NFL — including coaches and other personnel — has already been vaccinated, several player have spoken out against Covid-19 vaccination. That group includes the Buffalo Bills’ Cole Beasley and Josh Allen, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Mixon. Beasley in particular has been a vocal critic, stating that he would “rather take my chances with Covid” than getting a shot.
Players who are not fully vaccinated will continue to face similar restrictions as the one implemented by the NFL last year. Those include undergoing a daily testing routine, wearing face coverings, facing travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, and being isolated if labeled as high-risk close contacts to people testing positive.
The Patriots will open their training camp on Wednesday, July 28, with players reporting in the days leading up to that first practice. Players will have to be fully vaccinated at that point in order to be cleared to avoid any of the NFL’s Covid-19 restrictions.