GATES MILLS, Ohio — Over the course of the 2020 season, few NFL teams were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the Cleveland Browns were. So perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Baker Mayfield views the ability to get vaccinated as a competitive advantage heading into the 2021 campaign.
RELATED: More Cleveland Browns news from WKYC
Speaking to reporters at his annual youth camp in Gates Mills, Ohio, on Wednesday, Mayfield was asked about the NFL's COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season. In answering, the Browns' quarterback acknowledged the league-related benefits of the vaccine, as players who have been vaccinated will be able to follow looser protocols than unvaccinated players, including not being required to quarantine following high-risk exposure to COVID-19.
"Obviously last year was new for everybody so it was a lot of learning the protocols," Mayfield said. "It definitely poses a competitive advantage for higher vaccine rates on your team, just because of the close contact rates and what happens if somebody does unfortunately get COVID and what can happen to the rest of the building."
It would be tough to dispute Mayfield's assessment.
Whereas last season, the Browns had multiple players miss games due to COVID-19 exposure -- including the bulk of the team's receiving corps missing a loss to the New York Jets -- this year, such players wouldn't be required to miss any playing or practice time so long as they were quarantined. It's also notable that vaccinated players will be less likely to contract COVID-19 and will not be required to undergo daily testing.
But while NFL teams with higher vaccination rates will undoubtedly have a competitive advantage, Mayfield also noted that there are other benefits -- both on the football field and off of it -- to getting the vaccine.
"It's a competitive advantage but it's also way more than that," he said. "It's about safety and just general health and well-being of human life."