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‘As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated’

Bill Belichick said last week that when the Patriots released Cam Newton, it had nothing to do with the quarterback’s personal decision to remain unvaccinated to COVID-19. The Patriots coach also gave his opinion about the efficiency of the vaccine around the NFL.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 1, Belichick said the league has seen “quite a high number… of players who had the virus who have been vaccinated.” He added that the “implication that vaccination solves every problem…has not been substantiated based on what’s happened through training camp this year.”

According to NFL data, from Aug. 1 and 21, the league saw 68 positive results out of 7,190 COVID-19 tests. Unvaccinated players tested positive seven times higher than vaccinated players.

On Monday, in his first news conference of the week, Belichick said he wanted to clarify his remarks over the vaccine. The Patriots coach made it clear that his team would be better off if everyone was vaccinated, but remained firm in his stance that no player would be released or kept over their decision to get or not get the vaccine.

“I just wanted to take a second to clarify an answer to a question I gave the other day relative to vaccinations. No player has been released or kept because of their vaccination status. That’s not part of the equation,” Belichick said. “My comment relative to vaccinations, really, the way I feel, that’s an individual decision for each person to make. As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated.

“That being said, even if everybody was vaccinated, that doesn’t solve all our problems as we’ve seen multiple players and head coaches and assistant coaches throughout the league test positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated. Still, it’s still incumbent upon us to be vigilant in our daily hygiene and decision-making, for the health and safety of each of us individually and of our team. So we’ll continue all the league protocols as we always do. But that’s not a factor in any player’s release or non-release on the team.”

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks up during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks up during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

COVID-19 will continue to be a storyline in the NFL. On Monday, the Miami Dolphins placed their starting left tackle Austin Jackson and backup tight end Adam Shaheen on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. That could put Jackson out for this week’s season-opener against the Patriots.

Of course, the timeline depends on the player’s vaccine status. If a player is vaccinated, he’ll have to be symptom-free for 48 hours and then produce back-to-back negative test results 24 hours apart before he returns. If a player is unvaccinated and tests positive, he’ll be out at least 10 days.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Patriots’ Bill Belichick clarifies COVID-19 vaccine comments

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