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Kingsbury: Cardinals Have Been 'Overly-Educated' About COVID-19 Vaccine

Cardinals coach unsure about percentage of his players who are vaccinated

Coach Kliff Kingsbury and head athletic trainer Tom Reed (right) talk with the team after a minicamp practice.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury and head athletic trainer Tom Reed (right) talk with the team after a minicamp practice.

Kliff Kingsbury doesn't know how many Cardinals players and coaches have received their vaccine for COVID-19.

The head coach does know they have been properly informed of its efficacy.

"They have been overly-educated, if that is possible, on the vaccine," Kingsbury said at the end of minicamp. "(Head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and our medical staff has done a tremendous job of making sure these guys feel confident and comfortable, if they were to receive the vaccine."

The 2020 regular season was extremely abnormal, which was a given as the pandemic surged in the fall. It's harder to forecast what the 2021 season will look like.

There have been major strides made in combating the virus, but it's unclear how many players and coaches will choose to get vaccinated. If a certain threshold isn't reached, it could mean another year of strict protocols and testing.

There are many individual benefits to being vaccinated, as those players only get tested for COVID-19 once per week, don't have to wear masks inside the facility and won't have to quarantine for contact tracing.

Those unvaccinated must test daily, wear masks at the facility, follow social distancing guidelines and quarantine after a high-risk contact, among other nuisances. Updated protocols for training camp and preseason were recently agreed to by the NFL and the NFL Players' Association.

The Cardinals are among the teams with a low vaccination rate, according to the Washington Post, and star safety Budda Baker said in an Instagram story on Wednesday that he has COVID-19.

Kingsbury was diplomatic on the subject last week as minicamp wrapped up.

"For each player, it's a personal choice, we understand that," Kingsbury said. "Our biggest thing, and Tom Reed has done a tremendous job, is just making sure coaches and players are educated on it and can make smart decisions."

Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who has always been known for his honesty, was blunt when asked if the team brought in a specialist to explain the benefits of the vaccine to his team.

"I'm the specialist," Arians said, per ESPN. "If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated. Eighty-five percent is what we're shooting for, and I think everybody is tired of meeting out here and eating outside and doing all those things we had to do last year. It's still a personal choice, but I don't see a reason not to be vaccinated."

Montez Sweat, a defensive end for the Washington Football Team, is among the players who are resistant to receiving the vaccine.

"I'm not a fan of it," Sweat said, per ESPN. "I probably won't get vaccinated until I get more facts and that stuff. I'm not a fan of it at all. I haven't caught COVID yet, so I don't see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID."

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen and safety Harrison Smith said in mid-June they have not been vaccinated.

The NFL Players' Association is actively trying to supply its constituents with the relevant research, according to executive director DeMaurice Smith.

"I think the only thing that we can do is make sure that all of our players have all of the information," Smith said, per USA Today.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Jets quarterback Zach Wilson are among those at the game's most high-profile position who have been vague about getting the vaccine.

It could be a crucial summer as players decide whether or not to get vaccinated before training camp.

"I still gotta think about all those certain things that go into it," Darnold told the Charlotte Observer.