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2 Sep, 2021 11:22

‘Great coach, bad doctor’: Fans slam Patriots coach Bill Belichick as he casts doubt on efficacy of Covid vaccine

‘Great coach, bad doctor’: Fans slam Patriots coach Bill Belichick as he casts doubt on efficacy of Covid vaccine

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has found himself at the center of a media firestorm after he appeared to cast doubt on Covid-19 vaccinations, saying that inoculation "doesn't solve every problem".

Belichick has long been considered one of the more ruthless coaches in the NFL and once again showed off that streak this week when he unceremoniously cut former league MVP Cam Newton from his squad ahead of the start of the new season in a little over a week's time.

This was a surprise. While Newton is far removed from the type of form which saw him named as the best player in the NFL some years ago, he was thought to be the Patriots' first-choice quarterback ahead of the new campaign and was predicted to once again be the signal-caller for the team, all while keeping the seat warm for rookie QB Mac Jones – New England's first round selection in May's NFL Draft. 

But when news of Newton's release hit the newswires, it immediately prompted some wide-ranging speculation. 

Newton, the former Carolina Panther, was noted for being one of the league's more high-profile figures who had yet to receive a vaccine against Covid-19, despite as many as 94% of the league's players having received the jab – and that led to queries as to whether Newton's vaccination status had played a part in his release. 

Belichick indicated that that opposite was true – but also took time to question the league's vaccination policy as it stands.

"Your implication that the vaccination solves every problem... has not been substantiated," Belichick said in an exchange with a reporter. "The number of players and coaches and staff members who have been infected with Covid after being vaccinated is a pretty high number. I wouldn't lose sight of that."

The league's players' union, the NFLPA, have decreed that no player can be cut from a roster for the sole reason that they have not been vaccinated – something that prompted the Jacksonville Jaguars to walk back their head coach Urban Meyer's comments this week in which he claimed that a player's vaccination status was a "consideration" when it came to roster cuts.

The NFL has adopted strict guidelines when it comes to vaccinated and unvaccinated players. Those who have yet to receive the jab must undergo daily Covid-19 tests, while their vaccinated teammates must take one just every two weeks. 

A string of other restrictions are also in place, mandating that unvaccinated players must wear masks in their training facilities and aren't permitted to mix with vaccinated teammates.

Belichick's comments about that "pretty high number" of breakthrough infections for vaccinated players are open to interpretation. He is indeed correct in noting that some vaccinated players have tested positive but the data suggests that an unvaccinated NFL player is seven times more likely to be infected than their vaccinated teammates.

Furthermore, the vaccinated players who contract Covid-19 are said to have experienced only very mild symptoms – and as noted by the Center for Disease Control in the United States, it is the unvaccinated population who are largely requiring hospital treatment.

Also on rt.com ‘It’s because he wouldn’t get the Covid vaccine?’ Fans, pundits react as Patriots cut former NFL MVP Newton

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Belichick's comments prompted a torrent of objections online.

"I love BB but this is a bad take," wrote one. "Unvaccinated people are much more likely to get severely ill and are more likely to get the virus. That is a proven fact."

"Belichick: great coach, bad doctor. Don't lose sight of that," added another.

"Haven't heard one respected doctor claim vax 'solves every problem'. They're very clear it isn't a cure.

"Vaxxed people get breakthrough cases, mild in most cases, when they could very well have been deadly. Yes, lots of breakthrough thanks to Delta. And we can thank unvaxxd for that," said a third.

Also on rt.com NFL coach Meyer under investigation by players’ union after admitting that vaccination status was key decider in roster cuts