The back-and-forth between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the league office over vaccinations continues.
After Belichick downplayed the vaccine last week by saying a “pretty high number” of vaccinated players have tested positive, the league pushed back through its chief medical officer. Meeting with reporters on Monday morning, Belichick referred to the vaccine issue in his opening remarks.
“No player has been kept or released because of their vaccine status,” Belichick said, via Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. “My comment relative to vaccinations are really the way I feel. That’s an individual decision to make. . . . We’re better off if everyone is vaccinated.”
Belichick said what he had to say, because the rules prohibit vaccine status from being a factor in roster decisions. If he had admitted that, for example, the daily testing requirement for Cam Newton made Belichick less inclined to trust him to be available to be the starting quarterback without a sudden and abrupt absence, the NFL Players Association likely would have launched an investigation.
But Belichick has a point. Players who are vaccinated are testing positive. And, as noted earlier, incentives crafted to help persuade players to get vaccinated could create far more opportunities for infection than last year, when everyone was subject to the full and complete protocols.