The abrupt dismissal of quarterback Cam Newton by the New England Patriots sent shockwaves around the league, raising new doubts about whether the COVID-19 vaccination played a role.
Newton, a Heisman Trophy winner, 2015 NFL MVP, three-time Pro Bowler, and the favorite to succeed Tom Brady, has enjoyed a successful ten-year career. Despite a difficult 2020 season due to the pandemic and missing a game after testing positive for COVID, Newton’s 2021 season appeared to be a new start until now.
After starting Newton in the first three preseason games, head coach Bill Belichick claimed Newton was on the right track, but Newton missed three days of practice last week due to “a misunderstanding relating to COVID-19 regulations,” according to the organization.
Newton refused to tell reporters if he had the vaccination, merely saying it was too personal to discuss.
The club subsequently issued a statement on Wednesday to clarify coach Meyer’s position.
Newton’s firing will be investigated by the NFL Players Association, according to ABC News.
Although the NFL does not mandate players to be vaccinated, unvaccinated athletes are subject to severe rules such as daily testing, mask use, and social isolation. Each violation of procedure might result in a $15,000 punishment.
If an unvaccinated player tests positive for COVID, they are immediately suspended for 10 days. Even if they test negative, players who have had intimate contact with an infected individual must sit out for five days.
With just 17 games in the regular season, every game and every player on the pitch is crucial.