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Jackson, NFL Quarterbacks Scramble From COVID Vaccines

Lamar Jackson. Photo by Joe Glorioso/All-Pro Reels via Flcikr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Joe Glorioso | All-Pro Reels
Lamar Jackson. Photo by Joe Glorioso/All-Pro Reels via Flcikr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

NFL training camps are in full swing, as teams prepare for the upcoming season. And some of the game’s best quarterbacks are already in midseason form in terms of their scrambles.

To be specific, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, New England’s Cam Newton, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson of the Ravens have already demonstrated their abilities to avoid contact, even before a down has been played.

This isn’t at all about their skills at eluding a pass rush. Far from it. In fact, the reference isn’t about anything having to do with the playing field.

Nope, this new Fearsome Foursome is about dodging questions over whether they’ve received COVID-19 vaccinations.

Cousins, the first player in NFL history to sign a completely guaranteed contract when he joined the Vikings three years ago, hasn’t been coy at all about getting vaccinated. He’s a no.

Indeed, Cousins has gone to great lengths to lay out the lengths to which he would go to avoid getting a vaccine, up to and including, having team meetings outdoors in January. In Minnesota.

Cousins also offered to surround himself in Plexiglass to keep from getting that nasty old needle stuck in his precious arm.

Meanwhile, Allen, Newton and Jackson have gone a more circuitous route, framing their hesitance to declare their vaccine status as an intensely personal choice.

Allen initially said he was debating whether to get the shot then offered that he would let statistics and logic guide his thinking.

Later, Allen said the team’s conversations would stay in house.

Newton, who tested positive for coronavirus during the 2020 season, said during a media session that the decision to be vaccinated was "too personal to discuss."

And then there’s Jackson, the cornerstone of the Baltimore franchise. In June, the former NFL MVP declared "Just like everyone in society, it’s their decision, keeping that to themselves."

Sounds pretty simple, right? And it was. That is, until he tested positive for COVID last week, forcing him, under league protocols to miss the first eight practices of training camp.

Sitting out the first week or so of training camp shouldn’t be a game-changer for Jackson. Players often sit out late July and early August sessions in search of new contracts and come back to have break out seasons. It may be the same for Jackson.

However, Jackson’s comeback is complicated by the notion that he missed a game last season with a positive COVID test.

If you’re keeping count, that would be two positive tests in a year for the man considered to be key to the Ravens’ 2021 fortunes.

There are, to be sure, other key components to this team, but if Baltimore is to have any hopes of reaching and going far in the playoffs, a healthy Lamar Jackson will be at the core of those hopes.

No less a figure than Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has weighed in on the subject, imploring Jackson to get vaccinated. And this time, Jackson should run towards contact. With a COVID shot.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

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Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.