Tom Brady on Saturday revealed that he contracted COVID-19 in February, shortly after participating in the Buccaneers' Super Bowl 55 boat parade, per an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
The second-year Bucs quarterback said he has since been vaccinated against the disease — indeed, the Bucs have a 100 percent vaccination rate — but added that he thinks the pandemic will continue to be a problem for NFL teams in 2021. That’s even with players having access to the vaccine (the rate of vaccinated NFL players across all teams following roster cuts is 93 percent).
“And I think it’s going to be challenging this year,” Brady told the Times. “I actually think it’s going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we’re doing now and what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans.”
Despite their high vaccination rate, the Bucs have already placed four players on the reserve/COVID list: kicker Ryan Succop, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and offensive linemen Nick Leverett and Earl Watford. Brady surmised Tampa Bay will likely have to play games without players in 2021 due to breakout cases.
“It’s not like last year, although we’re getting tested like last year. It’s going to be, I definitely think guys are going to be out at different points and we’ve just got to deal with it.”
Vaccinated players face looser NFL protocols in 2021, though Brady said coach Bruce Arians has not wavered in following them in 2021. In fact, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said the coach’s strict adherence to protocols in 2020 helped contribute to Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run.
“He did an unbelievable job keeping this thing together during COVID,” quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said. “He didn’t compromise, and it ended up being one of the huge advantages because we didn’t have any dips because of COVID, largely because of him. He had zero tolerance for cutting corners on the COVID protocol.
“He dog-cussed them. If he thought there was any slack whatsoever in us taking that thing for granted or letting down our guard, he snapped the team back to attention.”