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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones endorsed the sentiment of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who drew a connection between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and putting in the necessary work away from the field to win a title.
“If you’re not one of them teams [at the threshold], are you really thinking about winning a championship? You see what I’m saying,” Irvin told reporters on Monday. “OK, so now if you’re not getting vaccinated and you got all these other teams that are getting vaccinated …”
During a press conference Wednesday, Jones said Irvin delivered “an outstanding message.”
Some have made the point that getting higher numbers of players vaccinated can provide a competitive edge for teams.
NFL owners and the NFL Players Association agreed to a policy that relaxes the COVID-19 protocols for players and staffers who are fully vaccinated. Among other benefits, they don’t have to undergo daily testing and aren’t required to quarantine if they come into contact with somebody who has the virus.
Cleveland Browns star Baker Mayfield echoed Irvin’s point and cited the wider benefits of getting vaccinated:
Ben Axelrod @BenAxelrod
Baker Mayfield on higher vaccination rates being a competitive advantage for NFL teams: pic.twitter.com/c3YpeooCa2
It isn’t a universally held stance across the league, though.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who has spoken about his reticence to getting the vaccine, disagreed with Irvin’s comments:
Cole Beasley @Bease11
That’s not what that means. You can be vaccinated and not do all the right things football wise to be at your best. All it means is players are gonna be out there with covid and we won’t know cause they only get tested once a week so the NFL can make their money. https://t.co/VukRFeeOp3
The 2020 season saw numerous instances of teams having to forge on without one or more players because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. In the most extreme example, the Denver Broncos had to start wideout Kendall Hinton at quarterback because their entire quarterback room was unavailable.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported last Friday that 13 of the league’s 32 teams have reached the 85 percent threshold for COVID-19 vaccinations, with two failing to hit 50 percent.
The preseason is scheduled to open Aug. 12.