The Miami Dolphins have placed starting left tackle Austin Jackson and tight end Adam Shaheen, who is unvaccinated, on the reserve/Covid-19 list, the team announced Monday, leaving the Dolphins, like several other teams hampered by ill teammates and staff, potentially shorthanded for their season-opening game this Sunday against the Patriots in New England.
Jackson, the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL draft, started 12 of the 13 games he played as a rookie and was expected to start Week 1.
Shaheen, a backup tight end, has been vocal about his opposition to the league’s efforts to encourage vaccination and his refusal to take the shot.
Last month, Shaheen claimed the NFL was “trying to push” the vaccine “on unvaccinated guys.”
The NFL Network reported Monday morning that Shaheen tested positive for the virus but has not exhibited “major symptoms.”
In a corresponding roster move, Miami elevated cornerback Jamal Perry as a Covid-19 replacement on Monday.
“They’re not going to strong-arm me into doing something for more freedom when this is such a changing atmosphere, and they’re already taking away freedoms of the unvaccinated guys,” Shaheen told reporters in early August. “I’m going to keep my hands off and follow the rules that they put in place for me, but they’re not going to strong-arm myself into getting it.”
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According to the NFL Network report, it is not yet clear whether Jackson tested positive or landed on the reserve/Covid-19 list due to contact tracing. If Jackson is vaccinated, it’s possible he could return from quarantine after five days. If Jackson is unable to Sunday, he will likely be replaced by Greg Little, whom the Dolphins acquired via trade last month. As for Shaheen, because he’s unvaccinated, NFL protocols mandate a quarantine period of at least 10 days, meaning he will be unable to play Week 1 in New England.
Under the NFL’s new protocols, teams that experience a Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players will be forced to forfeit any game that can’t be rescheduled. The “burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” commissioner Roger Goodell declared in a memo to the league’s 32 clubs. Many pundits have predicted that teams with a high vaccination rate will have a competitive advantage. Last week, Carson Wentz, the Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback and highest-paid player, confirmed he has not been vaccinated. Wentz told reporters his choice not to get the jab was a “personal decision” and would not “go in depth on why” he made it. Darius Leonard, an All-Pro linebacker whom the Colts inked to a record-setting five-year, $98.5 million contract extension last month, revealed he is unvaccinated as well. Leonard explained that he had yet to receive his shot because he was concerned about potential “long-term effects and stuff like that.” On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys announced that Zack Martin, a six-time Pro Bowl right guard, tested positive for the coronavirus and would not be able to play in the Cowboys season opener on Thursday. ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen tweeted Monday that several NFL coaches and executives are “nervous about Covid-19 testing today with the number of players who visited their former college teams’ opening games (and social gatherings) this past weekend.” NFL league officials have said they would welcome a vaccine mandate for players.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend, legendary quarterback Tom Brady revealed that he tested positive for Covid-19 in February, shortly after the Buccaneers parade commemorating their Super Bowl victory. Both of Brady’s parents tested positive as well. Brady stated in the interview that the coronavirus could be even more of a challenge during the upcoming season. “I actually think it’s going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we’re doing now and what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans,” he said.
93%. That’s the percentage of NFL players that have been vaccinated, according to NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills.