This year’s Super Bowl was a game of two halves. The first half was a defensive struggle with quite a few penalties, dropped passes and poor play, but the second half saw the offense take control of the game with some great play by Andrew Luck and the Colts offense.
The NFL has made the controversial decision to require its players to have documentation that they have received the controversial vaccination, CoVax-19. This is being done in spite of the fact that the official website of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases has said that there is no evidence that vaccination increases the risk of an athlete getting the MERS virus.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIA — Chris Ballard, the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, emphasized on Wednesday that everyone should be vaccinated against COVID-19.
After quarterback Carson Wentz, center Ryan Kelly, and receiver Zach Pascal were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday after coming into close contact with a Colts staff member who tested positive, Ballard spent a significant amount of time in his annual media session before the start of the regular season answering questions about a number of his players not being vaccinated.
If Wentz, Kelly, and Pascal get negative tests and are asymptomatic on the sixth day following close contact, they may return to the facility. The fact that the three players were put on the list as close contacts indicates they have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, since vaccinated players would only be placed on the list if a positive test result was obtained, according to NFL policy.
“Not getting vaccinated has repercussions,” Ballard added. “Do I believe that everyone should be immunized? Absolutely. I am in favor of the vaccination. The vaccination is for (Coach) Frank (Reich). On our squad, there are a lot of men that support the vaccine. Is it flawless in every way? No. However, this is a positive thing.
“It may save you from having to go to the hospital in a life-threatening emergency. It also aids in the prevention of part of the spread, which is a good thing. However, the men who have decided not to get vaccinated realize that they are still a member of our squad; it is their choice, but they are still a part of our team, and they must look after the team.”
The Indianapolis Colts have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the NFL. After reducing the roster to 53 players on Tuesday, Ballard refused to disclose what that proportion is now. Many players, including Wentz, have refused to disclose whether or not they’ve been vaccinated or why they decided not to be.
“Look,” Ballard remarked, “I can bang my head against the wall.” “I can walk in there and wreak havoc and cause mayhem. That’s not how we do things around here. I have faith in our team. I support them because I believe in what they stand for. We’ll keep working on the vaccines. It’s not as if we’ve finished educating… They realize, however, that they must adhere to the procedures in place and that they must follow them. And we’re going to execute it to the best of our abilities.”
Since the start of training camp, the Colts have been hammered by players put on the COVID-19 list. After being in close touch with someone who tested positive, they took guard Quenton Nelson off the list on Monday. Eric Fisher, a left tackle recuperating from a ruptured Achilles tendon, was put on the COVID-19 list on Aug. 26. T.J. Carrie, Julien Davenport of the offensive line, Al-Quadin Muhammad of the defensive line, and Xavier Rhodes of the cornerback position have all been on the list. At separate times throughout training camp, Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus tested positive for COVID-19.
If a player is forced to miss time due to the pandemic, the Colts, like every other club in the league, will have to adapt on the fly. Because of his lack of vaccinations, no player will be scrutinized more than Wentz, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles over the summer. He’s coming off a season in which he lost his starting position with the Eagles, and he’s only been to five sessions (full and individual) since training camp began on Aug. 2 due to left foot surgery.
“He’s put in a lot of time and effort, and he’s been a great teammate,” Ballard said. “When the incident with the foot occurred. I could see the irritation, but I also saw a different expression. ‘I’m having fun.’ Let’s get (the bone) out of the way and get to work.’ That’s a positive development.”
T.Y. Hilton, the receiver, is a player who will not be returning anytime soon. A disk issue required surgery for the veteran lately. He’ll be placed on the injured reserve list by the Colts, which means he’ll miss at least the first three games of the season. Hilton’s injury was exacerbated during practice on Aug. 25.
Hilton, 31, has been the Colts’ No. 1 receiver for the last nine seasons, including five seasons with 1,000 yards.
“He’s relieved and feels a lot better,” Ballard added. “T.Y. has a reputation for being a fast healer. I believe he’ll return whenever he’s ready. With him, it’s always better to act sooner rather than later.”
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