The Latest: NFL Hall of Famers help push vaccine awareness

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Kansas head coach Bill Self watches player introductions before an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 men's tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:


Five Pro Football Hall of Famers are partnering with Centene Corporation to increase education and awareness around COVID-19 vaccines through a series of public service announcements.

The PSAs began airing nationally Friday on television and digital platforms and focus particularly on communities of color.

Hall of Famers taking part include include Anthony Muñoz, in both English and Spanish, Darrell Green, Aeneas Williams, and Drew Pearson. Also contributing are broadcaster Lisa Salters, South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, and Iman McFarland, CEO of 21st Century Expo Group.

Multiple surveys have indicated high rates of “vaccine hesitancy” within the Black community and other communities of color, and that's impacting immunization rates. Recent data show that Blacks make up only 6% of those who have been vaccinated despite constituting 13% of the population and accounting for 15% of all COVID-19 deaths.

The PSA campaign is designed to build confidence around the vaccine and encourage people to get vaccinated.


Indiana baseball coach Jeff Mercer has tested positive for COVID-19, and the Hoosiers’ home doubleheader against Penn State on Friday has been called off.

Mercer tested positive Friday and said he was experiencing minor symptoms. He said he would isolate for 10 days. The rest of the team and coaching staff are undergoing further testing.

The teams hope to play doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday.


Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 Tournament on Friday after a positive COVID-19 test within the men’s basketball program, sending No. 13 Texas into the championship game against No. 2 Baylor or No. 12 Oklahoma State.

The Jayhawks learned earlier this week they would be without center David McCormack and backup forward Tristan Enaruna due to COVID-19 protocols. They managed to beat No. 25 Oklahoma 69-62 in the quarterfinals without them.

Kansas had gone the entire season without an outbreak that caused it to cancel or postpone a game.

It’s unclear whether the positive test came from a player or staff member.

Kansas would need to return seven consecutive days of negative tests that produce at least five eligible players to participate in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.


The Baltimore Orioles announced Friday they will begin the season by hosting approximately 11,000 fans per game, or 25% of capacity of Camden Yards.

In accordance with MLB's health policies, the Orioles will implement “pod” seating throughout the ballpark to guarantee proper social distancing of six feet between each group of ticket holders. Fans will have to wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking in their assigned seats.

Camden Yards also will not accept any cash payments this season. Credit or debit cards will be the only method of payment throughout the ballpark, including at parking lots, concession stands, and ticket windows. Kids Run the Bases also is canceled for the time being.

The home opener is April 8 against the Boston Red Sox and will be reserved for fans who purchased Birdland Memberships.

The Orioles also plan to promote vaccination education and crucial public health messaging to fans all season and will invite local frontline and health care workers to select games in honor of their dedication to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Big South Conference has postponed FCS football games between Robert Morris and Charleston Southern and Monmouth and Gardner-Webb scheduled for Saturday because of the coronavirus.

The league said COVID-19 issues for Robert Morris and Gardner-Webb led to the postponements. The conference said it is working with the schools to reschedule the games at a later date.

Robert Morris was scheduled to play at Charleston Southern, while Monmouth was traveling to Gardner-Webb.


Lambeau Field will host a COVID-19 vaccination site for eligible Green Bay-area community members starting Wednesday.

The Green Bay Packers are partnering with Bellin Health and Brown County Public Health to make the atrium around Lambeau Field a vaccination site. The site may expand to other areas of Lambeau Field later on.

Officials say the site will have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 people per week initially. They hope to eventually be able to vaccinate up to 10,000 people per week at the site.


The Atlanta Braves are planning to open Truist Park to about 13,500 fans to start the new season.

The three-time reigning NL East champions will allow 33% capacity at their 41,084-seat stadium beginning with opening day against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 9.

No fans were allowed in MLB parks during the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, though hundreds of Braves’ backers gathered on a lawn outside Truist Park to watch the Braves on a giant video board during their playoff run, which came up one win short of the World Series.

The Braves said they will review their seating plan after each homestand and make adjustments as needed.

Modified seating is planned in socially distanced pods around the ballpark, primarily with two and four fans each, and they will have to wear masks when not eating or drinking. Contactless tickets and concession orders, as well as enhanced sanitation protocols, also will be in place.


The Minnesota Twins are the latest Major League Baseball team to receive government approval for fans to return to their games this season. They can play at Target Field for now in front of a capacity of up to 10,000 people.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and the state’s health department announced Friday a series of rolled-back COVID-19 restrictions. Large outdoor venues have a limit of 10,000 people, about 25% of what the ballpark holds. The Twins’ home opener is April 8 against Seattle. Most major league teams have already announced plans to open the gates at varying capacities for 2021.

Minnesota’s seated indoor venues can now admit up to 3,000 people. That would allow the NBA’s Timberwolves and NHL’s Wild to begin letting in fans again. Only a limited amount of family members of players and staff have been able to attend those games this season.


More AP sports: and