BEREA, Ohio (AP) — For Browns defensive star Myles Garrett, there was never a choice on whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I got sick,” the All-Pro end said Wednesday as Cleveland opened training camp. “I didn’t want to get sick again. So it was kind of point-blank apparent for me.”
Garrett missed two games last season after contracting the virus, and he never fully recovered after returning. A physical specimen, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Garrett struggled with his conditioning after he came back and needed to undergo breathing treatments during his recovery.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise nationally, NFL teams are pushing for more players to become vaccinated as the 2021 season approaches. Teams who meet a high percentage of vaccinated players can ease some of the protocols put in place in 2020.
Last week, the league sent a memo to teams saying it will not extend the season to accommodate any team that has an outbreak among unvaccinated players that leads to a game being canceled.
Further, players on both teams will not be paid for any canceled game, and the team responsible for the cancellation could be further disciplined.
Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski would not disclose on Wednesday what percentage of his team is fully vaccinated.
“I’m not going to get into specifics but we’re trending in the right direction,” he said before practice. "Just continue to educate everybody that we have a safe and effective vaccine. Want to keep our players safe, keep their families safe, the staff, etcetera. That’s what we’re discussing with our guys.
Browns rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is missing the start of camp after the team placed him on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Sunday following a presumed positive test.
Garrett said he's not pushing any of his teammates to get the vaccine. The Browns were one of the team's hit hardest by the virus a year ago.
“I know I went through it and I’m hoping nobody on our team or really in sports has to go through it again,” he said. "Really hoping for everyone to follow the protocols, do the best they can to keep themselves healthy, their families healthy.
“As far as the vaccine, that’s your choice, you have those liberties and those freedoms in the country that we live in. Just do the best that you can for your family. Whatever feels right for you and for the people around you, go ahead and do that.”
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Tom Withers , The Associated Press