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Fresh off returning from an injury, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is once again sidelined ahead of their season opener.
Wentz joined two other members of the Colts to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. In addition to the star quarterback, center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal have been placed on said list after coming into close contact with a Colts staffer who tested positive for the virus.
The simple fact that all three players were placed on the list indicates that none of them were vaccinated from the virus. Under NFL protocols, vaccinated players would be placed on said list only if they tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s been a longstanding belief that Wentz has not been vaccinated, joining well less than 10% of active NFL players in that category. This is also the latest example of how the pandemic might impact the coming 2021 NFL regular season.
Quarterbacks such as Carson Wentz are X-factors
We saw it when Wentz was sidelined to a foot injury early during training camp. At least initially, it seems as if it was going to be a long-term absence. At that point, Indianapolis’ Super Bowl odds fell off big time.
None of this should be considered a surprise. Despite his struggles with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, Wentz is still seen as a starter-caliber quarterback. The same thing can’t be said for Colts backups Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger.
That right there is the issue when it comes to NFL’s COVID-19 protocols and the quarterback position. Teams can get away with missing a star player at another position for a game or two. But rosters are built in today’s NFL to rely a great deal on the quarterback position. Given the current NFL COVID-19 protocols, this puts teams who have unvaccinated quarterbacks on the roster at a disadvantage.
- Game day COVID-19 testing: Non-vaccinated players such as Carson Wentz will have to return a negative COVID-19 test no later than four hours before kick off on game day. Should said player test positive, he’ll be out for that day’s game. Given the 10-day isolation protocol, the quarterback would likely also be sidelined for the following game. If non-vaccinated teammates were to come into close contact with the infected player, they would also be sidelined.
- NFL forfeit policy: Imagine this scenario. A quarterback such as Carson Wentz tests positive for COVID-19. He’s in close contact with the two other quarterbacks on the roster. Both are not vaccinated. That would force all three quarterbacks to miss a game, leading to a likely forfeiture on the part of the team.
Seeing the issue here?
We can argue about COVID-19 vaccines and whether they are safe. We can argue about their effectiveness until we’re blue in the face. This isn’t the forum for that.
Rather, it’s all about competitive balance in the NFL. Quarterbacks such as Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson and Kirk Cousins not being vaccinated as the United States deals with an uptick in cases could cause some major issues for teams around the NFL.
As for Wentz, he will need to remain in isolation for the next five days. That gives the former No. 2 overall pick more than enough time to return ahead of Indianapolis’ Week 1 outing against the Seattle Seahawks. But it doesn’t preclude another incident like this from occurring again.