As the Ravens prepare for the regular season, franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to be absent.
Jackson, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for COVID in late July. Per the league’s protocols, he must be absent for at least 10 days.
While it’s better that it happens now than during the regular season (although it’s not ideal that he’s missing so many practices), the chance lingers of something like this occurring once the season begins. For unvaccinated players, a positive test triggers an automatic 10-day break. For unvaccinated players, close contact with someone who has tested positive results in a minimum absence of five days.
If vaccinated, close contact results in no absence. If vaccinated, a player can return from a positive test after generating two negative outcomes at least 24 hours apart.
That’s where the competitive advantage (if vaccinated) or disadvantage (if unvaccinated) comes from. And while that approach applies to all players, the starting quarterback continues to be the most important person on a roster. Any starting quarterback who isn’t vaccinated faces the continuous risk of suddenly being gone for five days or 10 days or longer.
That’s why so many coaches and executives and owners are apoplectic about vaccine hesitancy among players. With so many experts (true experts, not just people with social-media accounts) give full-throated endorsements to getting vaccinated, people whose ability to do the thing they love to do is enhanced by getting vaccinated still won’t listen. It’s hard not to imagine this irrational stubbornness not impacting the relationship between player and team for years to come, whether it’s Jackson and the Ravens, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, or any other starting quarterback or key player and the team that employs him.