Bill Belichick told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday there are “a lot of factors” involved in the release of Newton, who had previously declined to confirm whether he has been vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, saying the issue is too personal to discuss.
“No. You guys keep talking about that … the number of players and coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in this training camp [around the NFL] who have been vaccinated is a pretty high number, so I wouldn’t lose sight of that,” Belichick said while responding to questions if the quarterback’s vaccination status has anything to do with him being released.
“There’ve been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what’s happened in training camp [throughout the NFL] this year,” he added.
He continued to explain that the Patriots “have other players on the team who aren’t vaccinated,” just like probably every other team in the NFL.
Newton, named NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2015, was away from the Patriots for five days in August due to what the team called a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding,” according to an Aug. 23 statement.
During his time away, Newton was reportedly outplayed by rookie Mac Jones, allowing him a spot on the team to be the next season’s starter. The move came as a surprise as the Patriots previously said that Newton would be the team’s starting quarterback, prompting speculations if it had anything to do with his vaccination status.
“That’s our decision, and we’ve had weeks of meetings on all players, so it’d be impossible to rehash everything that happened at that position or any other position, but ultimately there’s a lot of factors that are involved, and we made our decisions,” Belichick said about the replacement, noting that “both players took pretty close to an equal number of repetitions.”
Newton’s removal comes as the Patriots moved to trim its roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players in preparation for the 2021 regular season.
Once one of the NFL’s most electrifying players while a member of the Carolina Panthers, Newton joined the Patriots in July 2020 as the team was desperate to replace Tom Brady, who left to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Newton was impressive in leading the Patriots to victories in two of their first three games of the 2020 season before being sidelined after testing positive for the CCP virus.
He finished the season throwing just eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions and his future with the team was put in question when the Patriots selected Jones with the 15th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Newton broke into the NFL in 2011 when Carolina took him with the top pick in that year’s draft. His best season came in 2015, when he led the team to a 15-1 regular season record en route to the Super Bowl, which Carolina lost to the Denver Broncos.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From NTD News