Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and others have, intentionally or not, sent messages to personnel around the NFL by reminding players not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 they will "have a harder time in the season" because they will have to live and work under health and safety protocols similar to those used in 2020 before vaccines were available to all league employees.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield wore a mask inside the team's facility during June's mandatory minicamp, which hinted he wasn't yet fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. While speaking with reporters at his youth football camp Wednesday, however, Mayfield indicated his situation has since changed.
"Obviously last year was new for everybody," Mayfield explained. "So it was a lot of learning the protocols and whatnot. It definitely poses a competitive advantage for higher vaccine rates on your team just because of the close contact [rules] and what happens if somebody does unfortunately get COVID, what can happen to the rest of the building.
"It’s a competitive advantage but it’s also way more than that. It’s about safety and just general health and well-being of human life. So I’d leave it at that."
As of last Friday, only 13 NFL clubs had reached the 85% vaccination threshold among players that allows for the loosening of some virus-related restrictions and guidelines.
The Browns, meanwhile, famously notched a playoff victory at the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in January without head coach Kevin Stefanski in attendance after he and a handful of others within the team tested positive for COVID-19. Stefanski starred in a public service announcement encouraging Ohio residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus this spring.