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Indianapolis Colts general manager: ‘Consequences’ for unvaccinated players

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Indianapolis Colts’ brass is not holding back following an issue relating to COVID-19 within their roster heading into Week 1.

Earlier this week, head coach Frank Reich seemed to put quarterback Carson Wentz and others on blast. Wentz joined center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal in being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday after coming into close contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus. All three are not vaccinaed.

In talking about this to the media on Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard might have provided the strongest language to date.

“There’s consequences to not being vaccinated. Do I think everybody should be vaccinated? Absolutely. I’m for the vaccine. (Coach) Frank (Reich) is for the vaccine. We have a lot of guys on our team who are for the vaccine. Is it 100% perfect? No. But it’s a good thing,” Ballard said, via ESPN.

“It can help you from ending up in the hospital in a critical situation. And it helps stop some of the spread, and those are positive things. But for the guys who have chosen to not get vaccinated, they still understand they’re still part of this team, it’s their decision, but they’re still part of our team and they have to take care of the team.”

Ballard is talking about two aspects of the COVID situation within both the Colts’ organization and the rest of the NFL.

First off, he’s talking about helping prevent the spread of the virus within the locker room. Logically speaking, that will also help prevent a team from being at a competitive disadvantage once the regular season starts.

Click here for our 2021 Indianapolis Colts season preview

Secondly, Ballard is seemingly calling out those within the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room who are not vaccinated. By remaining unvaccinated, said players are putting the season at risk. He expanded on that, too.

“Look, I can beat my head against the wall,” Ballard said. “I can go in there and raise all kinds of hell and go off. That’s not how we roll. I believe in our guys. I believe in what they stand for and I’ll stand by them. We’ll continue to work on the vaccinations. It’s not like we’re done educating … But they understand they have to take care of the protocols at hand and they have to live by them. And we’ll do that at the best of the ability we can do it.”

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Indianapolis Colts and the COVID-19 situation

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) took the field to observe practice Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, during training camp at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp At Grand Park In Westfield Indiana Tuesday Aug 17 2021
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) took the field to observe practice Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, during training camp at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Indianapolis Colts Training Camp At Grand Park In Westfield Indiana Tuesday Aug 17 2021

Indianapolis heads into its season opener against the Seattle Seahawks as one of the least-vaccinated teams in the NFL. It already has Wentz sidelined for the second time this summer after he suffered a foot injury early during training camp.

Coming off a 2020 campaign in which they won 11 games, the Colts are relying on Wentz to be the difference. They lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Bills last January and want to go deeper into the playoffs.

At this point, the best asset is availability. Obviously, Ballard and the Colts’ brass is making a statement in this regard given that his comments come one day after head coach Frank Reich opened up with the same opinion.

They also come at a time when the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars are under fire following comments from head coach Urban Meyer indicating that vaccination status played a role in roster decisions.

Obviously, this is going to be a major backstory around the NFL for a second consecutive season. That’s no more true than with the Indianapolis Colts.

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