- Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says his team is 100% vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Heading into the season, quarterback Tom Brady hadn’t publicly said whether he’d gotten the vaccine.
- Being fully vaccinated gives the Bucs an advantage: It minimizes the risk players will miss games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Thursday that his entire team — players, coaches, and staff — was 100% vaccinated against COVID-19.
His statement answered one of the biggest questions surrounding the Buccaneers heading into the 2021 NFL season: the vaccination status of superstar quarterback Tom Brady.
As Defector’s Kalyn Kahler reported last month, it wasn’t clear whether Brady had received the vaccine at the start of training camp. While other quarterbacks have spoken publicly in favor of the vaccine, Brady had remained quiet, avoiding questions on the matter (though largely because he hadn’t been asked).
But Arians comments appear to have settled the question for good — if the entire Buccaneers team is vaccinated, Brady is, too.
—Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) September 2, 2021
Some fans might be surprised that Brady is vaccinated given some of his far-out medical beliefs — he once said his superior hydration helped prevent sunburn and that he hadn’t eaten a strawberry until 2018. But ESPN’s Jenna Laine said Brady has healthcare professionals in his family.
—JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) September 2, 2021
Brady is also a competitor above all else. He knows an edge when he sees one, and the Buccaneers’ vaccination status should help the team as it looks to defend its Super Bowl title. In addition to the obvious — helping prevent players from getting COVID-19 — being vaccinated in the NFL brings a lot of perks that serve as a competitive advantage.
The COVID-19 protocols the NFL adopted this year are vastly different for vaccinated and unvaccinated players: The former do not have to isolate if they come into contact with somebody who tests positive for COVID-19, while anyone unvaccinated must quarantine for five days.
With the entirety of the Buccaneers team vaccinated, the team will not be at risk of losing a player for a five-day stretch because they were deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive.
As of Thursday, the Buccaneers had already had four players test positive for COVID-19 in recent days: defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, kicker Ryan Succop, and offensive linemen Nick Leverett and Earl Watford. According to a report from ESPN, all four are fully vaccinated.
With the rest of the team vaccinated, the risk of breakthrough cases and the logistical headaches those would bring the team are notably lower.
The Buccaneers kick off their season on September 9 against the Dallas Cowboys.