EAGAN, Minnesota – While the Minnesota Vikings continue to go through a recent COVID-19 hiatus in the quarterback room, team co-owner Mark Wilf expressed concern about player reluctance to provide vaccines.
“We’re very worried,” said Wilf. “I think it’s safe to say that our # 1 priority is the health and safety of our players, our coaches, our staff and, ultimately, the entire community. From this point of view, we really encourage people to take the vaccines in order to be vaccinated.
“We are proud to have partnered with the state of Minnesota to use our facility here as an off-season vaccination center. We just want everyone to follow the protocols organization, the team to be safe and get the vaccinations. Of course, with the delta variant and other new permutations, we just want to ensure that health and safety are maintained. That is the point of view from which we come as the owner and as the owner of an organization. “
The Vikings are without the Kellen Mond quarterbacks, which tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend, Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley – the latter two were considered close high-risk contacts and had to self-isolate for at least five days. All three QBs and wide receiver Myron Mitchell were put on the COVID-19 / reserve list.
According to NFL / NFLPA protocols, a player rated “close contact, high risk” indicates that they are not vaccinated. Coach Mike Zimmer was open about his frustration with players refusing to be vaccinated, hinting at the stark reality of the Vikings, “the boys are going to miss some games and we need to be prepared”.
“I’ve talked to the team and as I said, there are some people who are just against it,” said Zimmer on Monday. “I won’t be able to change your mind so it’s like half the country I guess.”
The hesitant vaccination of the Vikings is reflected in the league-wide vaccination efforts. According to a Washington Post report, the Vikings have the lowest vaccination rate in the NFL, with 64.5% of players fully vaccinated and 70% in progress (with at least one shot). The Washington Football team struggled with similar interruptions during training camp, with six players currently on the COVID-19 / reserve list, but their vaccination rate rose 24% from 60% to 84% of their players at least partially vaccinated in one week, so the report.
The NFL announced Tuesday that 90% of players across the league are either fully vaccinated or have received at least one shot. Nine teams are over 95% and 27 teams have reached the 85% threshold.
The competitive advantage that teams with higher vaccination rates could have this season is not lost to Vikings players, coaches and owners. On his All Things Covered podcast, cornerback Patrick Peterson pointed out the importance of getting vaccinated so that you don’t run the risk of missing games thanks to COVID-19 protocols.
“I feel like I’m too important to this team not to get vaccinated, not to miss an important game and now we may lose this game and that could be the game we need to get to the playoffs to come, “said Peterson.
Wilf pointed out that low vaccination rates could lead to a competitive disadvantage and praised Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman for how they approached the situation in Minnesota.
“The competitive side is of course worrying, but here, too, our focus is on health and safety,” said Wilf. “We care about the players and the team, and from that point of view they just happen to be matched. But the fact is, we encourage vaccinations. We’re talking about a serious health pandemic and we want to make sure of that.” that our players, our employees, our coaches, that they are fully informed about what is happening here. From that standpoint, I think the way Coach Zimmer and Rick Spielman and the entire football team have handled it is the way to go – in terms of making sure we put the resources as property for everyone to be educated and has the ability to understand all the facts. “
The Vikings signed Case Cookus and Danny Etling quarterbacks on Monday after Jake Browning was Minnesota’s only quarterback available following the COVID-19 hiatus. Browning is vaccinated.
Zimmer said Monday he didn’t know when Moon, Cousins, or Stanley would be available to return. Since moon tested positive, its return is subject to various protocols.
According to NFL / NFLPA guidelines, a player on the COVID-19 / reserve list who tests positive and is asymptomatic may return to training 10 days after symptoms appear or five days after the initial positive test, with two consecutive negative tests separated by 24 hours are within five days. Players with symptoms can return 10 days after the first positive test and at least 72 hours after the last symptoms appear.
“It’s a difficult circumstance for [Mond]“, Said offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak. “We will make the best of it and continue to challenge him in our virtual meetings. He did a great job with it and stayed prepared. Mainly, I just want to make sure he’s okay. He’s got COVID – he’s sick. We have to get him well first. But when he comes back, we’ll physically get him back. In the meantime, we can stress him mentally and make it difficult for him so that when he comes back it’s only physical. “