The New England Patriots stole headlines on Monday, and it unfortunately had nothing to do with their ongoing quarterback competition.
Rather, it was revealed that projected starter Cam Newton would miss several days of practice due to complications stemming from offsite COVID-19 tests he received while attending a team-approved medical appointment.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound like a big deal. Doesn’t the team know plenty about Newton?
However, the QB1 is missing valuable practice reps that will now go to Mac Jones when he could’ve avoided this absence entirely by just getting vaccinated in the first place.
While Newton shouldn’t become the face of the NFL’s vaccine issue, he’s now the de facto representative of the Patriots’ problems, which is a real shame when you consider Robert Kraft’s repeated efforts to fight back against the virus.
In his latest column for NBC Sports, insider Tom Curran criticized unvaccinated players for flying in the face of Kraft’s good work.
Patriots insider Tom Curran criticized the team’s unvaccinated players.
Here’s part of what Curran had to say about the ordeal.
"“Think how much the Krafts have extended themselves to help this region fight COVID. They opened up the stadium so more than 610,000 vaccinations could be performed. They sent a plane to China last April to transport 1.2 million masks to the U.S. when the shortage was dire. There’s a lot more, but that’s just for starters.”“Now think how many hoops the Patriots as an organization have jumped through to get the team back on the field. There’s a business component, sure. Losing money stinks. But only an irredeemable cynic would think the Krafts have extended themselves over and over for good publicity and their bottom line.”"
We know Newton would never intentionally belittle the Patriots owner and his attempts to curb the spread of COVID, but his indifference to receiving the vaccine can only be described as selfish, to both Kraft and his teammates.
It also isn’t Newton’s fault that his season came off the rails after he tested positive last season. However, given that he never looked like the same player upon returning from the COVID list (go look at the numbers!), you would think he’d be leading the charge in terms of pushing players to get vaccinated.
Though Newton isn’t going to lose his job over this, his unforeseen (and totally avoidable) absence has created a window of opportunity for Jones to get back on level terms in the competition after the former MVP seemed to distance himself from the rookie in the Patriots’ preseason win over the Eagles.
Newton’s opposition to the vaccine has been a polarizing topic amongst fans. We get that it’s a personal decision. However, when you start talking about disrespecting Kraft, a beloved owner who’s literally doing everything in his power to fight the pandemic, that’s when you start skating on thin ice.
In other words, Newton had better be on top of his game when he returns from his league-mandated sabbatical on Thursday.