The Michigan Wolverines, who walloped rivals Ohio State in 2021’s “Game” Thanksgiving weekend, then blowing out Iowa 42-3 in the Big Ten Championship game, are hoping to maintain team health as they line up on Wednesday to receive their doses of the COVID-19 booster shot. The Wolverines will take on the University of Georgia Bulldogs on New Year’s Eve in the College Football Playoff, and the team made the decision to take the booster in an effort to keep as many players on the field as possible.
This decision comes as the NFL has announced it would postpone three games during Week 15 due to COVID-19 surges across the country. The league has also commented that fully vaccinated players may still face testing prior to games. The NHL recently made the decision to pause their season as the virus has been making its way through the league.
The Wolverines offensive lineman Andrew Stueber said the team made the decision to get the booster “out of an abundance of caution.”
Stueber spoke to the press on Tuesday, and he related that none of the players have had issues with the virus, but, with the current surge across the United States, the team isn’t willing to take the chance. President Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday stating that the Omicron variant had been diagnosed in forty-six of the fifty states; according to the CDC, Omicron is now the dominant strain in the country.
Stueber told the press that the members of the team understood how serious an outbreak of COVID-19 among team members could be. He stated that the team wished to take “the proper precautions.”
Stueber also related that having a majority of the team vaccinated and boosted would prevent the coaches from having to hold out of practice up to the pivotal Orange Bowl game. This game will decide who plays for the National Championship; being short-handed would be devastating for the 11-1 Wolverines.
Stueber also shared with the press that the team is taking other precautions in order to keep members of the team healthy. He told that the team is required to wear masks during meetings and the members of the team utilize social distancing during these sessions. Most members of the team do not sit around together for lunch; they take advantage of “to-go” lunches. Stueber also said that since the campus is basically empty with most of the student population at home for the holidays, social distancing is much easier for athletes who are still on campus.
The only loss the Wolverines took this season was at the hands of in-state rival Michigan State, which was marred by some controversial officiating, for which the Big Ten later admitted to. The team has practiced a great deal of accountability, particularly since last year’s 2-4 season (cut short due to COVID).
Other members of the Michigan team who spoke with the press reiterated Stueber’s sentiments. No one wants to squander this opportunity.
Defensive tackle Christopher Hinton told the press “we have to keep everybody strong for December 31, New Year’s Eve.”
The Michigan Wolverines are slated to play the Georgia Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl. The game will take place at 7:30 (EST), 6:30 (CST) and air on ESPN.