Stephen A. Smith Sounds Off On Athletes Who Refuse To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

By Ryan Shepard

September 15, 2021

Stephen A. Smith
Photo: Getty Images

Leading up to the start of the 2021-2022 NFL season, many fans, coaches and media members have wondered if top players would be vaccinated against COVID-19. With more than 90% of the league's players reportedly vaccinated against the virus, the overwhelming answer is yes. However, a few notable players like Kirk Cousins, Cole Beasley and DeAndre Hopkins have been open about telling others that they do not wish to receive the vaccine. Meanwhile, star quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton have been hesitant to confirm or deny that they have received the vaccine. During a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, iconic sportscaster Stephen A. Smith was open to sharing his opinions regarding unvaccinated players.

"Listen, I have my own reservations about the vaccine myself. I'm a Black man. We know history, in terms of what this nation has done as it pertains to medicine and things of that nature. The Tuskegee Experiment and all of this. We know all of that," he told Angela Yee.

"Here's the flip side. You're an athlete. You've been putting stuff in your body. Are you trying to tell me that whenever the doctor or team physician prescribes something to you, you look at every ingredient and Google it to make sure [that it's ok]? Stop it. You know good and d--- well that's not the case. We go to the doctor. We ain't feeling well. The doctor tells us to take something. We look at the prescription. Then, we go, we get it and we take it. That's what we do. All of a sudden you want to be like, 'I want to check.' Stop, that's where we look hypocritical."

While the First Take host was critical of many athletes who are refusing to take the vaccine, he did note that his comments do not pertain to those who regularly check the ingredients of other medications that they may take. For example, Cam Newton has been known to refuse painkillers and various medications during his playing days. Smith happens to believe that the majority of athletes in the NFL are not like Newton and do not check the ingredients of other medications prescribed to them.

"You have others that [do check the ingredients of medications that are prescribed to them]. I am not talking about them because they dotted their i's and crossed their t's. What I am saying is that in the world of sports, that clearly has not been the case. You have had guys throughout the years lament the kind of stuff that they put in their bodies. Well, it didn't stop you before. So, why all of a sudden [is it] stopping you now when they are talking about how hospitalizations and deaths are drastically reduced when you take the vaccine. All of a sudden, we're adopting conspiracy [theories] and things of that nature. It's inconsistent with what you have been."

"If you're not the guy that Googles the ingredients to find out what's in everything, stop it. Stop it."

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