Dion Dawkins said he feared for his life during a bout with COVID-19, and now some believe that the Buffalo Bills tackle is a bit miffed at teammates who could be putting the team’s season at risk by not taking it seriously.
After head coach Sean McDermott ran a tight ship in the 2020 season, managing to avoid the widespread infection outbreaks that left many other teams shorthanded, the team has struggled with infections this season. The Bills just saw half of their quarterback room head to the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and two other key starters missed Sunday’s blowout loss to the Indianapolis and could be in danger of missing the team’s Thanksgiving night game against the New Orleans Saints.
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Dawkins Shares Thoughts
In Sunday’s 41-15 loss to the Colts, the Bills missed the services of starting offensive tackle Spencer Brown and defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, both of whom have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Without Lotulelei in the middle, the Bills could do little to slow running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 185 yards while the Colts as a team ran for 264. On offense, the Bills again struggled to find any consistency in the running game.
After the game, Dawkins spoke out about teammates who have missed time and appeared to hint that it was their decision not to get vaccinated.
“Everybody has a personal choice to get vaccinated or not which is why it’s a free country. Guys make their own decisions and we have to live with it,” Dawkins said, via Heather Prusak of WIBV-TV in Buffalo.
While Dawkins may have been careful in his answer, many saw comments both from him and head coach Sean McDermott as showing disappointment. Some took note of Dawkins’ own history, as he previously suffered an infection that had him fearing for his life.
As ESPN reported, Dawkins was hospitalized in August when he contracted COVID-19 after getting his first shot but before he was fully vaccinated. Dawkins said it was one of the lowest points of his life, and came out of the ordeal as a vocal proponent of vaccination.
“I wish I could have been fully vaccinated — if I was fully [vaccinated], it probably would have been a little easier on myself,” he said. “But hey, whatever you’re comfortable with, do it. Just do your research and try to think about others because everybody is going to go through it differently.”
Though some may have interpreted Dawkins’s comments after the Colts loss as a shot to teammates, he has also been careful not to publicly condemn any of them, even backing wide receiver Cole Beasley after his vocal opposition to vaccine mandates.
Status of Bills Starters Remains Unknown
Due to the short week ahead for the Bills, it remained unclear whether either Brown or Lotulelei could return in time to play against the Saints on Thanksgiving. Lotulelei was first placed on the reserve list on November 14, meaning he could be eligible to return against the Saints, though the team has not given any update as to whether he was healthy enough to play.
If Brown is vaccinated, he would need back-to-back negative COVID-19 tests before he is able to return, but if he was unvaccinated then he would be forced to miss the Saints game. McDermott has been tight-lipped about the vaccination status of all players, not giving any hint on when the players could return.
“I can’t get into that,” McDermott told reporters when asked this week about when Brown may return. “He’s in the COVID protocols.”