The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been doing their best to keep COVID-19 out of the locker room and affecting the 2021 CFL season.
Head coach Orlondo Steinauer confirmed his team is over the league’s 85 percent vaccine threshold, which ensures the Ticats’ players won’t lose any pay during the current year if a breakout occurs.
From the CFL’s coronavirus policy: if a team can prove that 85 per cent of its players under contract have been vaccinated, at least once and preferably fully, the athletes will receive their salary for a cancelled game. If a franchise falls below the 85 percent threshold, the entire team will not receive its salary.
“The thing about the Tiger-Cats is we’re always ahead of the curve, I feel like we’re one of the leaders in the CFL as far as whatever is going on in the league,” linebacker Simoni Lawrence said.
“We take care of business and getting vaccinated was part of the plan and part of the goal. We kicked ass there and we did what we’re supposed to do.”
Steinauer and Lawrence were well aware of the virus breaking out within the Elks and the postponement of Edmonton’s Week 4 game. The CFL will attempt to reschedule a game if it cannot be played as originally scheduled due to a COVID-19 breakout. If one only franchise has positive cases, that team will forfeit the game and be assigned a loss while the opponent will be credited with a win by a score of 1-0.
“The proof is usually best with examples and unfortunately for them it’s a reality, but it’s a great example for us and anybody else that wants to learn from,” Steinauer said.
“We’re always doing that [following the policies]. We feel like we’re doing a decent job, we’re far from perfect, but we strive to be and the message is clear. They’re [the players] aware of it before we can even say a word.”
The franchise wants everyone around or supporting the team to be as safe as possible. Starting Monday, Sept. 6 for the home opener against the Toronto Argonauts, any employees or guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result to gain access to Tim Hortons Field.
“There should be some level of comfort. Each individual has their own interpretation and their own comfort level, so I can’t speak for that. I am just excited that we’re going to have some fans and we’re going to be at home,” Steinauer said.
In partnership with the Tiger-Cats, Hamilton Public Health Services will be holding mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics during upcoming practices at Tim Hortons Field on August 23 and 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as August 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., providing fans a unique opportunity to get vaccinated.
“It just shows our commitment to doing our part. We can’t convince anybody to do anything, all we can do is encourage and emphasize the importance of vaccination,” Steinauer said.
“To each their own choice, but it’s proven to be a deterrent in the majority of cases. I think it’s great that the organization and the community of Hamilton step up to give that opportunity.”