Colts’ low vaccination rate could upend season based on new COVID rules

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 12: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 12: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts set off some serious alarm bells when it was revealed that they had among the lowest vaccination rates against COVID-19 in the entire league. Why? Because there’s a competitive edge involved.

The league and player’s association have already released guidelines that show unvaccinated teams could have a serious advantage. Vaccinated players won’t have to wear masks around the team, get tested every day, practice social distancing, or eat meals separately.

While those restrictions might only be inconvenient for unvaccinated players, more changed on Thursday. The NFL sent out a memo that could potentially have a major impact on the win-loss records of teams that don’t reach the recommended 85% vaccination threshold.

The NFL informed teams that if a game can’t be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the game will be forfeited and the team with the outbreak will be handed a loss. The memo also states that no player on the team will receive their weekly salary if a game is forfeited for this season.

The league’s message is crystal clear. They won’t press the emergency stop and slow the whole league down to a crawl for a few teams.

The Colts could be in trouble if they aren’t vaccinated at a higher rate.

Considering that Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has already liked anti-vax tweets, there appears to be a small segment of NFL players who simply will not get the shot under any circumstance. Looking at you, Cole Beasley.

Now, the NFL has made getting the shot more important than ever this year.

The Colts have, for their part, encouraged players to get the vaccine, but those overtures haven’t seemed to work.

One Colts player who has gotten the shot is defensive tackle and All-Pro DeForest Buckner, who called it the “right decision” after spending an entire season complying with the NFL’s regulations to prevent the spread of the virus. He also hit the COVID-19 list at one point.

At this point, it’s beyond a personal choice for those wondering whether or not to get the vaccine. The shots have proven to be safe and significantly limit the spread of COVID and, more important, deaths and hospitalizations due to the virus, which have still occurred among young, healthy individuals.

Perhaps this changes the narrative for the Colts because at this point it’s insane to think you could lose games and pay if an outbreak puts a majority of the team at risk.