Bill Belichick’s Vaccination Comments Are Both Mystifying And Factually Wrong

Congratulations to Bill Belichick for somehow making Urban Meyer look like a standup human


Perhaps Bill Belichick really didn’t factor Cam Newton’s vaccination status into the decision to cut him.

But the belief the New England Patriots head coach seems to hold on the impact of players being vaccinated is provably false.

The Patriots on Tuesday cut Newton, making rookie Mac Jones the starting quarterback. Newton missed multiple days of practice last week due to a misunderstanding about COVID-19 protocols, and his absence wouldn’t have been so lengthy had he been vaccinated.

That, reportedly, was the “final straw” for Newton’s time with the Patriots. Belichick effectively denied that notion Wednesday, but then proceeded to stand on ceremony about how the impact of being vaccinated is overstated with respect to roster decisions.

“You guys keep talking about that,” Belichick told reporters, “But I would just point out that — I don’t know what the number is, you guys can look it up. You have the access to a lot of information. The number of players and coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in training camp who have been vaccinated is a pretty high number. So I wouldn’t lose sight of that.

Belichick added: “…We have other players on the team who aren’t vaccinated, as I would say does every other team in the league. We’ve had minimal, but throughout the league, there have been a high number. Quite a high number, I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated. Your implication that the vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what’s happened in training camp this year.”

So, first things first, this is wrong. ESPN NFL reporter Dan Graziano pointed out that unvaccinated players are testing positive for the virus seven times more than vaccinated players. Belichick doesn’t give a specific number, but by saying “that has not been substantiated” is taking a stance and, more importantly, flat wrong. It has been substantiated. There are breakthrough cases, no doubt (Pats tight end Devin Asiasi was one of them), but the protocols for them to return are far less stringent.

Belichick, who is vaccinated, is right that getting the vaccine doesn’t solve every problem. However, it’s irresponsible for him to downplay the significance of getting vaccinated both from a health and safety standpoint and in terms of how it impacts a team.

By the way, this comes after Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said vaccination status did factor into roster decisions, a comment the NFLPA now is looking into.

Look, believe what you want about vaccines. But players who are and are not vaccinated play by completely different rules in the NFL right now. And for someone like Belichick — who falls all over himself about how important it is to do what’s best for the team — to say it doesn’t really matter is baffling. It is ultimately a personal choice to get vaccinated or not, but you are, without question, not putting your team first if you elect not to get vaccinated.

Perhaps some of the blame here falls on the NFL. After all, they’ve put coaches in a position where they basically can’t disclose if a specific player was cut because of vaccination status. But Belichick has no issue giving one-word answers, but for some reason he felt compelled to expound on the lack of importance of vaccines in roster decision.

Nobody forced him to do that. So, to choose vaccination status as a rare topic to launch into a soliloquy about is just an all-around mystifying move by Belichick.

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