TAMPA ― As soon as the Bucs’ mandatory minicamp ended Thursday, coach Bruce Arians encouraged players who hadn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine to get it.
The literal shot in the arm could provide one for the Bucs’ chances of defending their Super Bowl 55 title.
NFL owners have agreed to relax COVID-19 protocols almost entirely for fully vaccinated players and staff, an additional incentive to seek shots before training camp opens this summer. Once teams reach the 85-percent threshold for vaccinated players and staff, the NFL has indicated they will abandon some of the restrictions on meetings, dining and travel.
The Bucs were providing vaccines to players and their families following practice Thursday. Arians said he did not know how many Bucs players were vaccinated.
“There’s going to be a long line over there right now,” Arians said afterward. “I’ll have a better idea after (Thursday). We were short up until now, but hopefully we have a pretty good line over there (Thursday).”
Washington coach Ron Rivera brought in Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett to speak to players concerned about receiving the vaccine. Arians said he has no plans to do something similar.
“No, I’m the specialist. I wear a bunch of hats,” Arians said. “If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated. Eighty-five percent is what we’re shooting for, and everybody is getting tired of meeting out here and eating outside and doing all those things. You have to be vaccinated. It’s still a personal choice. I don’t see a reason not to be vaccinated.”
Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett said he and his wife are both vaccinated and is hopeful his teammates will be, as well.
“It’s to each their own,” Barrett said. “I recommend it. I don’t know why people wouldn’t get it. But whatever helps you sleep at night, you do that. But I would like for 85 percent of the team to be vaccinated.”
Arians said he doesn’t believe there are a lot of players who will refuse the vaccine.
“No, I haven’t spoke to anybody who has resisted,” Arians said, “they’ve just been too lazy to get one.”
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