I don’t know what it is about NFL quarterbacks, but none of them seem particularly fond of getting vaccinated in order to protect themselves against COVID-19. Indianapolis Colts signal-caller Carson Wentz has dismissed inquiries into his vaccination status as “a personal decision”; a Michigan hospital recently severed its relationship with two-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins over his stance; and the worst dressed man in the NFL, Cam Newton, ain’t about that life either.
“It’s too personal to discuss,” he told reporters recently. “I’ll just keep it at that.”
To that end, eagerly anticipating his own turn at anti-vax double dutch is Baltimore Ravens superstar Lamar Jackson, who finally returned to Ravens training camp on Saturday after missing an NFL-mandated 10 days of practice in order to quarantine after contracting COVID-19.
For those keeping track at home, this isn’t the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner’s first rodeo with COVID-19 either: During the 2020 NFL season, Jackson missed the Raven’s week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after he tested positive for the coronavirus last Thanksgiving.
You would think that after two brushes with a deadly virus that has stolen over four million lives and counting that you’d do just about everything humanly possible to either inoculate yourself or relocate to a remote island. But apparently, the 2019 NFL MVP doesn’t have plans to do either.
“I just got off the COVID list,” Jackson said after Monday’s practice. “I got to talk to my team about this and see how they feel about it. Keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there.”
Soooooooo does that mean he’s thinking about getting vaccinated?
“We’ll see,” he said. “Talking to the doctors. We’ll see.”
Thankfully, Jackson has increased immunity to COVID-19 due to his previous diagnosis, which will hopefully prevent severe illness or hospitalization. But as Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, notes, reinfections might be rare, but they’re much more likely to occur in people who are unvaccinated.
“It’s a rare occurrence, but [reinfection] should be expected to happen because the virus hasn’t gone anywhere,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “Reinfections are going to occur especially in people who aren’t vaccinated. But the thing is, we can minimize the impact by having as high of a vaccination rate as possible.”
For his own sake—and the rest of us—I would hope that the 2019 Pro Bowler decides to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But until then, even Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor, is openly pleading for the franchise quarterback to reconsider his stance for the greater good.
“With the rules the NFL put down, I can’t imagine a team wanting to forfeit a game or lose a chance at the playoffs and none of the players getting paid because someone won’t get a vaccine,” Hogan said.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.