Bruce Arians says Buccaneers are 100% vaccinated, joining Falcons as only teams so far

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached 100% vaccination, head coach Bruce Arians said Thursday. That threshold consists of players, coaches and staff.

They are the second team in the league to announce full vaccination status. The first was the Atlanta Falcons.

Arians said earlier in training camp he expected the roster to be close to full vaccination by the beginning of the regular season. The reigning Super Bowl champions open the season at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

Player who are vaccinated are less likely to contract the coronavirus and less likely to be hospitalized if they do contract it. They also had less league health protocols to follow during the season.

The two NFL teams that are now fully vaccinated are in states that are experiencing the largest upticks in daily cases per 100,000. The southeast region of the United States is currently a hotspot with Georgia and Florida some of the least vaccinated states in the country, per the New York Times. Florida is averaging 93 new cases per day of 100,000 people (sixth worst in the nation) and Georgia averages 85 (eighth).

Arians set own COVID-19 rules

Head coach Bruce Arians says the Buccaneers have reached 100% vaccination status. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Head coach Bruce Arians says the Buccaneers have reached 100% vaccination status. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Arians said last month his team is using the same COVID-19 protocols as last season rather than the relaxed protocols allowed for those who are vaccinated and teams that reach 85%. He cited the continuously high case counts and low vaccination in Florida for it.

His comments came after a handful of Tennessee Titans players as well as head coach Mike Vrabel tested positive for the coronavirus following joint practices in Tampa.

"For us, life is not normal," Arians said in August, via ESPN. "We're pretty much under the same protocol, we're going to be under the same protocols as last year.

“Because that's the way it is, especially living here [in Florida]. Tennessee coming in and going out to dinner — they found out the hard way. So did Ryan. You can only tell them so much. Once we get to 53 [players on our roster] — even this weekend [for our preseason game in Houston] — our guys are going to make a bunch of sacrifices that you have to make now. Families at the hotel, all those things, they're all out the window."

The NFL will not postpone or reschedule games if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs. The team with an outbreak among vaccinated players will take the loss and players on both teams lose game checks.

Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette had previously seemed against receiving the vaccination, but said Thursday he did it to try and be the best teammate he could.