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Bill Belichick told reporters on Wednesday that Cam Newton’s vaccination status was not a factor in his release, as media members had suggested.
“No,” Belichick said, when asked about it.
“Look, you guys keep talking about that. I would just point out that I don’t know what the number is, but the number of players, coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in this training camp — who have been vaccinated — is a pretty high number. So I wouldn’t lose sight of that.”
That’s a good headline, but a coach’s word to the public doesn’t mean anything.
“You can’t be mediocre and unvaccinated. You have to pick 1,” Fox Sports Emmanuel Acho said. Unfortunately, Acho is correct.
As much as I disagree with the notion that a player’s vaccination status should play a role in whether he makes a team, it’s the reality. Urban Meyer admitted it’s the case in Jacksonville. Although, for the record, Newton has never actually confirmed his vaccination status, saying it is “too personal to discuss.”
The NFL is like life — decision-makers weigh upside versus downside. The league has implemented stringent rules for unvaccinated players that could cost them and their teammates games throughout the season. A player has to be worth offsetting that headache, and Newton is not. Cam Newton isn’t a good QB anymore.
New England may have looked to cut Newton anyway after deciding Mac Jones would start in Week 1. Newton’s personality and drawing power are not ideal traits for a backup QB. In fact, they are distracting.
Cam Newton’s vaccination status wasn’t the only reason the Patriots released him, but it still was a factor.