Bill Belichick addresses recent vaccine comments: 'As a team, we're better off if everyone is vaccinated'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick got himself into some hot water last week for comments he made about the COVID-19 vaccine, but now he's trying to right the ship.

Belichick's original comments came during a media session on Wednesday, when he was asked if quarterback Cam Newton was cut from the team because he chose to remain unvaccinated. Belichick gave an unequivocal "no" to that, and then he went further, downplaying the usefulness of the vaccine. 

It turns out Belichick was 100 percent wrong about a "pretty high number" of vaccinated players, coaches and staff testing positive. Belichick's vaccine comments were deemed so inaccurate that the NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Alan Sills, publicly refuted them. Sills said that the data shows a higher infection rate among unvaccinated players than vaccinated players. He also said that the vaccine is doing exactly what it's designed to do: prevent people who get COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill.

Belichick clarifies vaccine comments

On Monday, Belichick started his media session by addressing the controversial vaccine comments he made last week. 

"My comment relative to the vaccinations is that's an individual decision for each person to make. As a team, we're better off if everyone is vaccinated and that being said, even if everyone is vaccinated, that doesn't solve all our problems as we've seen, multiple players, assistant coaches, head coaches throughout the league have tested positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated. 

"It is still incumbent upon us to be vigilant in our daily hygiene and decision-making for the health and safety of each of us individually and our team. We'll continue to follow league protocols as we always but that's not a factor in any player's release or non-release."

Belichick doesn't want to force anyone to get the vaccine, but he did admit that it would be better for the Patriots as a team if everyone was vaccinated. That way, players would miss minimal time if they tested positive (as long as they have no symptoms), and wouldn't have to miss any time if they're a close contact of someone who tested positive. (Unvaccinated players miss a minimum of 10 days if they test positive, and five days if they're a close contact.)

He's also right that even if the whole team was vaccinated, players could still test positive. That's life during a pandemic. But if the whole team is vaccinated, at least you know that players who get infected most likely won't suffer severe symptoms, which could affect them for much longer than a few weeks and could even lead to death.