BOSTON (CBS) — NFL training camp figures to look a lot more normal than it did last year, when the country was in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, with nearly half of the country vaccinated, the situation is much better.READ MORE: Patriots Release Kicker Roberto Aguayo, Long Snapper Wes Farnsworth
Still, with some vocal skeptics about the vaccine around the NFL, and with the NFL likely to loosen restrictions on teams with certain vaccination levels, the vaccination topic figures to be an important one around the league this spring and summer.
On Thursday morning, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked if he and the organization had any plans to bring in outside doctors or experts to help educate his players on the vaccine. Belichick didn’t answer the question directly, but he said he’s confident that everyone in the organization has the resources to be well-educated on the matter.
“I don’t think there are teams that have done any more than we have in this area. So I feel like our players are informed and have the opportunity to be informed,” Belichick said. “So I’m pretty comfortable with what we do — what the organization, Mr. Kraft, our training and medical staff, what we’ve done for everybody here.”
Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty participated in an educational video on vaccines put out by the Patriots in April.READ MORE: Celtics Host Six Players For Pre-Draft Workout, Including Auburn's Sharife Cooper And Texas A&M's Jordan Hall
“As a Black man in today’s society, I was fortunate to hear Dr. [Sebastian] Hamilton speak to a group of people, and the one thing that stood out for me is he said, ‘Getting a vaccine is a personal decision.’ But I was able to think about that personal decision, because I was equipped with all of the information. I was educated,” McCourty said. “So I’m urging everyone, please educate yourselves. Find out if this vaccine is for you. And if it is, jump in. Jump in fearless. Go and do this.”
That video ended with a strong endorsement from Hall of Famer and Patriots director of community affairs Andre Tippett, who said, “Get vaccinated. I did.”
After going through a year where COVID threw teams — including the Patriots — a number of curveballs, Belichick said the team understands that things can change, “sometimes expectedly, sometimes unexpectedly.”
“We’ll always keep everyone informed and make decisions that are best for individuals and for our football team. Whether it be this specific situation or any others that are similar to it, that’s how we’ve always done it. I can’t imagine that would ever change.”MORE NEWS: WATCH: Tom Brady Once Again Is Not Afraid Of 'The Madden Curse'
Belichick added: “I feel like we’re on top of it, we’re in front of it, and we’ll be compliant with whatever rules or guidelines we’re given by the league.”