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Patriots team captain Matthew Slater on Covid-19 vaccines: ‘We want our football team to be healthy and productive’

Related: Mac Jones has already earned the respect of the Patriots’ veterans, says Matthew Slater

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

On Monday, the New England Patriots announced a problem with quarterback Cam Newton. Newton, who the team announced “traveled to a Club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area,” was forced into a reentry process due to a “misunderstanding” about Covid-19 tests.

The problem however, could have easily been avoided if Newton was fully vaccinated - as only those who are not vaccinated must enter the five-day reentry process. Instead, Newton is now sidelined for four days of practice, including the first of two joint practices against the New York Giants.

Meanwhile, the problem has become a major story line in the dog days of training camp. On Tuesday, veteran Matthew Slater provided his insight on the vaccination issue and how a player’s choice could negatively affect the team.

“I think we’ve already had those conversations leading up to this point,” Slater said Tuesday. “I don’t like the idea of trying to force someone to do something like that, especially when it comes to their health, their body. I don’t like the idea of, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta do this because I said you’ve gotta do it.’

“Obviously when you’re dealing with grown men, they don’t respond well to that sort of thing. So, we had those conversations. Guys are doing what they think is best for them. We have to respect that, and we’ll see how this thing plays itself out. Obviously, we want everyone to stay safe and healthy. We want our football team to be healthy and productive. We’re just going to have to take that one day at a time.”

Long time captains Slater and McCourty — whose wives are both doctors — recorded a Patriots-produced PSA earlier this offseason, providing educational information on vaccines:

“Look, this is an issue that is obviously a tough one for our community within the football realm but also nationally and worldwide. For me, it’s just about guys getting educated,” Slater answered when asked about the video’s message.

“Ultimately, I truly believe everyone has a choice to make, and they have to do what’s best for them. They have to take the advice of their healthcare providers, their family, their medical history, and make a decision that’s best for them.

“So, we obviously say that in the video, but I think it’s good for people to educate themselves. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you don’t know, ask questions, try to get educated, and then make a decision that’s best for you. I’m not going to sit here and bang the drum one way or another because I do believe it’s a personal choice.”

When asked about Newton and the vaccination rules Tuesday morning, head coach Bill Belichick did not have anything to add onto in regards of the statement the team released.

“The league rules are the league rules,” Belichick said. “We’ll be compliant with them. Whatever they are, they are. Every team is dealing with the same situation.”

According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, there has been “a level of frustration” from the organization with Newton’s current situation, and the mistake could have potentially “opened” a window of opportunity for rookie Mac Jones.

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