RENTON — The Seahawks were the only team in the NFL that didn’t have a positive COVID-19 test last year, a significant point of pride for coach Pete Carroll.
Now the Seahawks enter the 2021 season with a strong opportunity to again stave off a COVID outbreak in their locker room.
Of the 91 players on the roster to open training camp, 90 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, Carroll said after the team’s first practice Wednesday.
“We’re really thrilled about that,” Carroll said. “Our guys made an extraordinary effort to take care of one another.”
Everyone on the Seahawks coaching staff has received the vaccine, he said.
“It’s a statement of a really committed, smart group of guys,” Carroll said, adding: “We were fortunate that we were so successful last year, and our guys took a lot of pride in that. So they’ve listened and they’ve made these choices together, and the leadership has done a really good job of impacting the young guys and their thinking.”
Carroll did not identify the one player who has declined to get the vaccine.
“He’s got real personal reasons why,” Carroll said. “We’re going to take care of him throughout.
“… Our organization,” he added, “has studied this thing and we feel very confident in what we know and what we’ve learned, and we’ve been very forthright about it with the players. We’ve been strong about our commitment to sticking with it and expecting our attitude to stay good, which is the most important part of this whole thing. And our guys have done that. So I’m hoping we can do a great job again.”
The NFL’s COVID protocols for 2021 include significant penalties for teams that suffer outbreaks among unvaccinated players — protocols that the league hoped would spur more vaccines among players before the start of training camps this week.
Notably, the NFL informed teams that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the regular season because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will suffer a forfeit and the loss credited to their record, with the opposing team credited with a win.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that 86.9% of all NFL players have had at least one vaccine dose.
Carroll said the NFL’s COVID protocols are not strict enough. Per league policy, players who are not vaccinated are required to get tested every day and wear a mask regularly; players who are vaccinated are only required to get tested once every 14 days.
Carroll, however, has asked his players to take a COVID test during each of the first five days of training camp this week. (Per the agreement between the NFL and the players association, Carroll can’t require players to be tested that often, but he can ask.)
“Personally, I think once every 14 days is not enough, and we’re not gonna do that. That’s not enough,” he said. “We need to look after these guys. And, really, it’s shifted (with the spread of the virus) … and we have to respond.
“I hear people griping that we’re going back to masks and stuff — well, that’s because things change. We have to respond to what’s going on. We’ve been willing to do whatever we need to do, and of course we stay in compliance with the league, but we’re willing to go beyond that.”