Nick Saban on how Alabama is handling COVID-19 testing
{{ timeAgo('2021-07-21 11:46:46 -0500') }} football Edit

Saban says 90 percent of Alabama's roster has received COVID-19 vaccine

HOOVER, Ala. — Earlier this week, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that six of the conference’s 14 teams have reached the 85 percent COVID-19 vaccination threshold required to relax protocols within their respective complexes. Wednesday, Nick Saban revealed Alabama is one of those teams.

According to the head coach, the Crimson Tide is “pretty close to 90 percent” in terms of players who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. That number is particularly important, considering that Sankey announced that SEC games will not be rescheduled in the event that rosters were hit by outbreaks of the virus. That being said, testing is still optional among players, creating an interesting discussion when it comes to how players will approach the vaccine.

Saban elaborated on the issue during his appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

“I think there's two issues when it comes to vaccines,” he said. “First of all, we have a majority of our players who have gotten the vaccine, and we've given every player on our team the choice to do that. I think there's a couple things to consider. First of all, you have a personal decision, which comes down to risk — risk of COVID, relative risk to the vaccine. It's the same thing. We don't really have a lot of knowledge about how this stuff is going to affect people in the future, so that's a personal decision that everybody has the right to make.”

Here comes the debate though.

“On the other hand, you also have a competitive decision to make because you're going to be a part of a team,” Saban elaborated. “So how does the personal choice and decision you make affect the team?”

Saban used the example of the North Carolina State baseball team which lost its chance at claiming the College World Series due to a COVID-19 outbreak last month.

“Players have to understand that you are putting your teammates in a circumstance and situation,” Saban said. “We can control what you do in our building. We cannot control what you do on campus and when you go around town, who you're around, who you're associated with, and what you bring into our building.

“So every player has a personal decision to make to evaluate the risk of COVID relative to vaccine, and then they have a competitive decision to make on how it impacts their ability to play in games, because with the vaccine you probably have a better chance. Without it, you have a lesser chance that something could happen, a bigger chance that something could happen that may keep you from being on the field, which doesn't enhance your personal development.

“Then how does it affect the team if you bring it to the team? So these are choices and decisions that every player has to make. Our approach has been I think we've had three medical doctors sort of give lectures to our team about the pros and cons of the whole COVID circumstance, the vaccine circumstance, so that they can make intelligent decisions about what they do.”

Later in the day, Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis announced that he received the vaccine while stating that he understands that his teammates might not all be willing to follow suit.

“Everybody got their own reason why they want to get it and why they don't want to get it, so at the end of the day, you've just got to support everybody's decision,” Mathis said. “I got it, so I don't see nothing wrong with it, but at the end of the day, you've got to respect everybody's decision on why they don't want it or do want it.”

Receiver John Metchie III, a native of Canada, revealed that he hasn’t seen his family in person for roughly two years due to travel restrictions related to the virus. Still, he is understanding of the situation and says he realizes he isn’t the only person facing issues concerning COVID-19.

“I think it's important to keep in mind it's something that everybody's dealing with,” Metchie said. “Everybody has something to deal with in the COVID situation. So it's kind of just remaining focused and — just remaining focused.”

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban addresses the assembled media in the Hyatt Regency at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Photo | USA Today
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban addresses the assembled media in the Hyatt Regency at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Photo | USA Today