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Ex-NFL player Mark Schlereth urges Alaskans to get vaccine

August 21, 2021 GMT
FILE - This Jan. 29, 2014 file photo shows former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth in New York.   Schlereth returned home to Alaska this week to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  The Service High alumnus made a halftime appearance Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at West High, where his alma mater squared off against the West Eagles.  (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
FILE - This Jan. 29, 2014 file photo shows former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth in New York. Schlereth returned home to Alaska this week to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Service High alumnus made a halftime appearance Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at West High, where his alma mater squared off against the West Eagles. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
FILE - This Jan. 29, 2014 file photo shows former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth in New York. Schlereth returned home to Alaska this week to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Service High alumnus made a halftime appearance Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at West High, where his alma mater squared off against the West Eagles. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three-time Super Bowl champion Mark Schlereth returned home to Alaska this week to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Anchorage Daily News reported that the Service High alumnus made a halftime appearance Friday night at West High, where his alma mater squared off against the West Eagles.

“I just want to encourage everybody to do your part, to talk to your doctor and if it’s the right decision for you, please get vaccinated, please take care of one another,” Schlereth said.

He has been advocating on social media for COVID-19 vaccines, and he said the NFL Players Association reached out to him about spreading the word in his home state.

“So here I am,” Schlereth said.

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Almost 54% of Alaska residents 12 and older have been vaccinated, according to the state dashboard.

Schlereth, 55, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in 1993 while playing for Washington. He said one of the reasons he got the COVID-19 vaccine was to visit with his mother who has cancer.

“I wanted to spend as much time safely with her as possible ... so it was just a no-brainer for us,” Schlereth said.

Schlereth said one of his high school coaches whom he considered a mentor died Thursday from COVID-19.

“I just lost a dear, dear friend who refused to get vaccinated, so that hit home for me,” he said.

On Saturday, Schlereth will be at the state Department of Health and Social Services’ vaccine booth at the state fair in Palmer from 1-2:30 p.m.

Schlereth played in the NFL for 12 years from 1989-2000, winning Super Bowls in 1991 with Washington and 1997 and 1998 with Denver.