SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold will be considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as of Friday, a league source told ESPN.com.
Darnold created somewhat of a social media uproar in early June when he told reporters on a Zoom call that he wasn’t vaccinated. Some questioned his leadership, particularly because of the restrictions non-vaccinated players are under.
Since then, Darnold has said it’s a personal decision and declined to clarify whether he’s been vaccinated or not. But according to the source, Darnold has had both shots, and on Friday, he will be 14 days out from the second, making him fully vaccinated.
“It’s everyone’s choice whether they want to get vaccinated or not,” Darnold said on Tuesday, as players reported to Wofford College for training camp.
That Darnold wasn’t wearing a mask during a group interview without social distancing on Tuesday was an indication he was vaccinated. However, he was wearing a pink wristband that indicates a player is not considered fully vaccinated.
The Panthers, according to a league source, are one of the NFL leaders, with at least an 85 percent vaccination rate. Coach Matt Rhule has said repeatedly that being vaccinated will give teams a competitive advantage because of all the protocols the NFL has for unvaccinated players.
That was magnified when the league announced teams that can’t play regular-season games because of a COVID-19 outbreak that began with an unvaccinated player would have to forfeit, and that players from both teams wouldn’t be paid.
Rhule would not speak directly about Darnold’s decision but is pleased where the Panthers are in terms of their vaccination rate.
“The thing with the coronavirus, with the Delta variant and all those things, is it’s going to be an issue even though we’re so highly vaccinated,” Rhule said. “It’s going to be an issue for us to deal with all year long.
“Everybody’s made their decisions, guys are still making some decisions, guys are in different places in the process. We still have to be smart. It’s still going to affect us in different ways, just because it’s affecting the whole world.”