The Washington wide receiver can be counted among the 60% of the team’s players who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. He is not in the group that drew the ire of a frustrated Ron Rivera who said he was perplexed by the team’s unwillingness to get the shot. As of Monday, Washington reportedly had the league’s lowest vaccination rate — and it’s unclear how many players will help get that number up.
“We all understand the position that he was in last year and the position he’s still in,” McLaurin said. “We have to be mindful of that. We never want to put anybody in jeopardy, especially him coming off of the cancer that he was coming from. We’re all very empathetic to that. … But, I think it’s just a collective thing where guys have to make their own decision, but also be mindful of how it could impact our team.”
McLaurin was one of three players made available to reporters — and he was the only one who said he was vaccinated. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen side-stepped the question, though he was not wearing a mask — an indication that he is vaccinated, given that unvaccinated players must wear masks in front of reporters when indoors.
Logan Thomas, meanwhile, was wearing a mask. The tight end said he would not share his vaccination status, but added: “I will say that everyone has the right to their opinion.” Thomas, too, had COVID-19 last training camp — missing the first few days of practice.
Thomas said actually having the virus did not sway his opinion about the vaccine one way or another.
“Obviously everyone has their own thought process on it,” Thomas said. “As long as you’re educated on it, you can make your own decision.”
Washington brought in a renowned immunologist in June to speak with players about the vaccine. The session helped some players like rookie wide receiver Dax Milne, who said he found the session informative. But there were others like defensive end Montez Sweat, who said he was “not a fan” of the information push and didn’t plan to get the shot since he didn’t have the virus.
Rivera said Tuesday that there could be tension within the locker room over their vaccination status — especially if a team has to forfeit a game because of a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated players, a possibility this year under NFL rules. Rivera said he was particularly frustrated because he is immune deficient and coming off a cancer diagnosis.
McLaurin was asked about players having to weigh their personal decision versus sacrificing for the team.
“We have to always be conscious of that,” McLaurin said. “We know the rules, they’ve clearly stated those in our meetings so far. … We have some big goals this year. We’re not excited about just making the playoffs, but we want to get there and make some noise.
“That just starts with how we care about each other and understanding what’s best for yourself, but also everyone because we have really big goals. … Other guys understand, vaccinated or unvaccinated, understand what the ramifications could be. It’s just something that’s going to be in the front of everybody’s mind.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at email@example.com.
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