Sports

Vaccines give teams ‘competitive advantage’

Two days after Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin questioned whether unvaccinated players want to win a championship, Baker Mayfield stressed the importance of team-wide vaccinations.

“Obviously, last year was new for everybody, so it was a lot of learning the protocols and what not,” Mayfield said Wednesday during his youth football camp. “It definitely poses a competitive advantage for higher vaccine rates on the team just because of close contact rates and what happens if somebody does unfortunately get COVID, what could happen to the rest of the building.

“It’s a competitive advantage, but it’s also way more than that. It’s about safety, just general health and well-being of human life.”

It’s unknown where the Browns stand with their vaccination numbers. As of July 16, 13 NFL teams had reached the requisite 85 percent threshold, which stipulates relaxed COVID-19 protocol. Two teams — the Washington Football Team and the Indianapolis Colts — remain below a 50 percent vaccination rate.

Few teams were hit harder from COVID-19 outbreaks last season than the Browns. The majority of Cleveland’s receiving unit missed a loss to the Jets because of contact tracing, while star defensive end Myles Garrett sat out two games after a positive test.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) , throwing a pass
Bakery Mayfield says the NFL’s COVID-19 vaccination protocols are about more than football.
Charles Wenzelberg / Gist Vile

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski seems to share Mayfield’s vaccine sentiment. Stefanski, who missed the Browns’ Wild Card round victory against the Steelers last season due to a positive COVID-19 test, starred in a commercial encouraging Ohioans to get vaccinated.

A number of NFL players have publicly expressed hesitancy in the vaccine, including Bills receiver Cole Beasley and ex-Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.

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