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Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, First Lady Jill Biden on COVID-19 vaccine: ‘The game is not over’

  • June 30, 2021

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“Like Emmitt said: That is just not enough,” Biden told an assembly of Dallas political, religious and community leaders in the Conrad gymnasium. “Which is why I’m here today. Because your life and your health matter to me and to your president.”

Biden and Smith toured the registration, shot administration and observation stations of Conrad’s vaccine center. Biden implored vaccine patients to encourage five more friends to receive the shot, reassuring them that she barely felt her jab. “And I hate needles,” the First Lady, sporting a white dress with lavender butterflies, said.

Biden aimed to demystify the shot by explaining its safety and efficacy in addition to reminding Dallas all shots are free. Smith said he was “extremely happy” when he and his family were vaccinated through the Parkland hospital system, which was also administering Conrad’s doses.

NFL players have been more hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine than league leadership hoped. All teams had shots, and medical experts to answer questions, available. Not all players are choosing to get vaccinated.NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer told reporters earlier this month. “You give them grown-ass facts and they’ll make a grown-ass decision.”

NFL players including Washington Football team defensive end Montez Sweat and Bills receiver Cole Beasley have expressed aversion to the vaccine. Sweat said from offseason practices that he “won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts” — after Washington met with a Harvard public health researcher whose research helped develop the vaccine. Beasley, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Cowboys, posted a statement to Twitter announcing he will not get vaccinated. He said he would forfeit money or his career before acquiescing to the shot.

Sixteen NFL teams had more than 50 of 90 players vaccinated while three had at least 70 as of June 15, the Washington Post reported. NFL teams have offered vaccines and vaccine education to players, also incentivizing them with drastically reduced restrictions for fully vaccinated team members. Travel, workout, testing frequency and meeting logistics will depend on a player’s vaccination status.

Smith and Biden, visiting vaccine patients during a 15-minute observation period to ensure no adverse reactions, equated the vaccine push to the final plays of a game.

“The game is not over,” Smith said.

Biden agreed.

“We’re going to get a touchdown,” she said. “Thanks for helping us run down the field.”

Follow USA Today Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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