The Indianapolis Colts announced huge news a couple weeks ago, confirming that training camp will be returning to Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield.
Though players won’t be able to sign autographs, capacity restrictions will be lifted, meaning hordes of fans will be able to take in the action.
These disclosures were followed up with even more significant news, as the Colts confirmed Lucas Oil Stadium will return to full capacity in 2021. Unfortunately, however, the players aren’t doing their part in expediting the long-awaited return to normalcy.
Remember a few weeks back when it was reported that Indy had one of the lowest vaccination rates of any team in the NFL? Remember shortly thereafter when general manager Chris Ballard came out and assured fans these rates would improve?
Well, that hasn’t happened. In fact, according to the Associated Press, the Colts remain among four teams under the 50% threshold. The three other squads include the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Football Team.
The Colts’ continuing to have a low vaccination rate is concerning.
To call this update disappointing would be an understatement. Not only did we believe Ballard (not that he lied, obviously), but DeForest Buckner, one of the team’s undisputed leaders, recently discussed why getting vaccinated was an easy decision. Has anybody followed his lead?
You know what’s really alarming? The Colts, as Ballard revealed, have had health care professionals and public health officials try to enlighten players on why receiving the vaccine is in the best interest of their families and immediate football careers.
If fans were concerned then, they have every right to hit the panic button now. With camp just two weeks away — and the regular season kicking off a couple weeks shortly thereafter — Indy is running out of time to meet the recommended 85% threshold.
There’s a significant competitive disadvantage to having a low vaccination rate. Will the NFL be as strict as last season, even if some players are vaccinated? You bet. Per the latest reports, players who aren’t vaccinated must get tested every day, wear masks around the team, and socially distance around the team.
That doesn’t even begin to describe the full list of restrictions.
The fact Indianapolis is even in a position to have to go through all health and safety protocols for a second straight season is troubling. With an added game and facing an unforgiving schedule, which includes a brutal opening six-game stretch, the Colts are in no position to face any more disadvantages than they already do.
We were hoping to never have this conversation beyond the initial discourse weeks ago. However, it might be time to start discussing how Indy’s low vaccination rates could impact their overall success in 2021.