New Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III made it clear that he is not going to be vaccinated for the upcoming season through a post on social media.
Johnson offered his opinion through a statement on Instagram on Tuesday, posting a photo that read: “If it worked and was safe, you wouldn’t need to run huge ad campaigns, mandate it, or offer incentives. If it worked and was safe, you wouldn’t need to block, censor, and threaten those who question it.” Johnson weighed in with his two cents, simply writing, “That part,” signaling he agreed with the sentiment about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Johnson followed that up with a video of Nick Saban saying, “I’m not going to, so quit asking,” a clear signal that he doesn’t plan to get vaccinated any time soon.
Being unvaccinated next season will have consequences. Players who have not been vaccinated must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling, per The Associated Press. Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions and teams above the 85% threshold will have fewer restrictions.
The AP reported that 73% of players have been vaccinated with training camp looming. Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver are teams with the highest vaccination rate, while Washington and Indianapolis are the lowest.
Insider: Browns in Good Shape on Vaccination Rate
Considering all the Browns went through last year due to COVID-19 restrictions — which included Kevin Stefanski not being able to coach during the team’s Wild Card game — it would make sense that the team wants to reach the threshold sooner than later. Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that the team is in “good shape” with their vaccination rate.
The last I heard coming out of minicamp in June is that the Browns were in good shape with their vaccination rate, and that several other players were planning to be vaccinated over the six-week break. I’m not sure that they’ll reach the 85% threshold that would enable the Browns to relax some of their COVID-19 protocols, but they’re not one of the lowest teams in the league. I’d say there’s at a chance they’ll hit the threshold by the start of camp.
Camp begins for the Browns on July 28 in Berea with a closed practice. Fans will be welcomed for the first time on July 30.
Browns Will Not Get Into Specifics About Who is Vaccinated
Stefanski said the team recognizes the “competitive advantage” gained by players being vaccinated, but won’t get into specifics about who’s received the shot or not. Stefanski took part in a commercial urging people in Ohio to get the vaccine.
“I am not going to share the number. We are not 100 percent so we are going to make sure we continue to educate our guys on how this can help themselves and their families,” Stefanski said during mandatory minicamp. “We have talked about how it is a competitive advantage. We want to make sure that they have a ton of information as they make their choice, but I am not going to get into the specifics of who is vaccinated and who is unvaccinated.”
Johnson joins a small list of players who have been outspoken about not getting the vaccine, including Bills WR Cole Beasley.
“I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living,” Beasley wrote in a statement he put out on social media.
He followed that up with another bold claim on Tuesday, writing: “I’ll get vaccinated and be an advocate for it if Pfizer puts a percentage of its earnings from the vaccine in my wife’s name.”