A misunderstanding regarding COVID protocols resulted in Patriots quarterback Cam Newton being barred from the team facility for five days. The statement from the team was vague. Not surprisingly, coach Bill Belichick added no clarity when talking to reporters on Thursday.
Here’s the question, from Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe: “I don’t quite get Newton was gone for you for five days and it was characterized as a misunderstanding. Was he told he could go, or did he not know the rule, or did you not know the rule?”
“I don’t really have anything to add, Dan,” Belichick said. “We released a statement. I think that covered it as thoroughly as we can without getting into lengthy things, so let’s leave it at that.”
Belichick was pressed on whether the team didn’t know the rules or Newton broke the rules and, ultimately, whether he violated team rules.
“No,” Belichick said. “He didn’t go against team rules, but there was a misunderstanding, and it’s exactly what I said it was in the statement.”
Next question: “So he was unaware he would lose the five days?”
“It’s exactly what I said it was in the statement,” Belichick said.
But it’s still vague, and it’s highly likely that the Patriots at all times knew the rules and that they don’t want to embarrass Newton by explaining to the world his failure to understand the very simple and clear rule that, as an unvaccinated player, he’s required to be tested at the team facility every day.
Every day means (wait for it) every day. There’s some flexibility in that; a player could be tested in the morning of a Monday and leave town and return on Tuesday and as long as he’s tested before Tuesday ends, he’s in compliance.
Newton apparently presumed, incorrectly and somewhat inexplicably, that he could get a test wherever he wanted while out of town. That’s clearly not the case, as Newton now knows. The team surely thinks he should have known the rule before learning about it the hard way. The team gains nothing by sharing that with the world, if that’s what happened.