The NFL’s new health and safety protocols stipulate any team unable to reschedule a game that was canceled due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players will be subject to forfeiture of said game. This new mandate also has implications for playoff seeding.
Many teams are working toward the vaccination threshold, but the mandate has sparked at least some controversy. It’s might prompt even more chatter and concern in New England.
Cam Newton and Mac Jones would not say whether they received the COVID-19 vaccine
Cam Newton and Mac Jones didn’t feel like discussing vaccination at Patriots training camp on Thursday.
Newton had a bit of a back-and-forth with one particular reporter who asked him whether he was vaccinated. The former NFL MVP fired back by asking the reporter if he himself got vaccinated, to which the reporter confirmed he received the vaccine. Newton then pivoted.
“I think it’s too personal for each and every person to kind of discuss it,” Newton said, via Audacy. “And I’ll just keep it at that.”
Jones, whom the Patriots selected with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, also described the COVID-19 vaccine as a personal choice. The responses from both quarterbacks might seem cookie-cutter in nature. However, head coach Bill Belichick told reporters earlier this week that the team would not address vaccination status with the media.
Belichick and Co. might hope to avoid the details, but the Patriots likely do not want a repeat of last season.
Newton was part of New England’s COVID outbreak in 2020
Newton has already had a bout with coronavirus.
The Patriots quarterback tested positive for virus ahead of a Week 4 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. That game was postponed and rescheduled, though New England still had numerous hoops to jump through and eventually faced the Chiefs with a pretty shorthanded roster.
It’s probably fair to suggest the Patriots would prefer to avoid such a scenario taking place this season. Reaching the threshold does not totally guarantee the team won’t be susceptible to the virus, but it still mitigates the risks.
Though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said last fall that reinfection cases are rare, Newton is not in the clear, so to speak. This is especially true with the growing prevalence of the Delta variant.
Is it possible the Patriots could actually go through this again?
What happens if COVID hits the Patriots quarterback room?
The fact that two of New England’s signal-callers likely aren’t vaccinated seems like a recipe for disaster.
Some fans might be quick to point out that one person contracting the virus is not necessarily causative for an outbreak, which is correct. Nonetheless, the Patriots quarterback room could be severely compromised if one of the QBs gets COVID due to the lack of vaccination.
Contrary to last season, New England cannot simply bank on rescheduling or the NFL taking measures to provide an extra week. The Patriots, like the rest of the teams in the NFL, have been warned. They run the risk of worsening potential playoff seeding.
Patriots fans are more likely to be focused on the training camp battle between Newton and Jones. But the Week 1 starter might be the least of the team’s worries if COVID intercedes.