Has the Sam Darnold vaccination riddle been solved ahead of camp?

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Has the question of whether Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold’s vaccination stance been solved ahead of training camp?

There has been plenty of debate among fans and NFL players surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the new season. The league is adopting a strict approach regarding potential outbreaks and the fines or even forfeits that could follow, which hasn’t gone down well with high-profile players such as DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey.

Sam Darnold refused to comment on whether he’d had the vaccine during a presser earlier this offseason. The quarterback has every right to keep his medical choices to himself, even though it might have an adverse effect on the Carolina Panthers and their chances in 2021.

Not many players across the league have more at stake than Darnold next season. The Panthers gave up three draft picks to acquire the signal-caller from the New York Jets in the hope he can reignite his career, which is a big gamble to make given his production so far.

The one thing Darnold doesn’t need during what will surely be his final chance to prove he’s a starting-caliber player under center is more distractions.

It won’t take long to find out which individuals have chosen not to get the vaccine at training camp or when competitive action begins. So it might unwillingly pile even more pressure on Darnold.

Sam Darnold was photographed without a mask during Bojangles’ promotion.

However, judging by a recent social media post, it appears as if Darnold is now vaccinated ahead of camp.

In a promotion by food outlet Bojangles, the former USC standout was photographed speaking to customers through their car windows without a mask on, which is a pretty bold move just days before practice begins if unvaccinated.

As stated previously, it’s a personal choice.

But things will be a lot easier for Darnold and the Panthers if he’s vaccinated in 2021.

Carolina is reported to have among the highest vaccination rates in the league, which is a positive step in pursuit of further progression. Of course, those who are double-jabbed can still contract COVID-19, but the risk of hospitalization is minimal in comparison.

Being cautious remains key for everyone, obviously. But there is now some light at the end of the tunnel and the NFL isn’t going to take any prisoners to ensure their 2021 campaign goes according to plan.

As for Darnold, he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders, and getting off on the right foot at training camp is crucial. This will be a solid foundation to build a possible redemption year for the No. 3 overall selection in 2018, which begins in Week 1 against his old team at Bank of America Stadium.

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