Well, that didn’t take long. In fact, it already happened two weeks ago when the Colts quarterback refused to disclose his COVID-19 vaccination status, calling it a “personal decision.” That was when certain segments of the Indianapolis media began to turn on Carson Wentz for showing a lack of leadership during a time when he had a chance to change some people’s minds about the vaccine and potentially save some lives.
He is, after all, supposed to be a leader on the team and in the community. That kind of comes with the job when you’re a highly-paid starting quarterback in the NFL. However, as Wentz sat out for much of Colts training camp after surgery on his foot earlier this month, his decision not to reveal his vaccination status was moved to the back burner. That was until the quarterback’s foot healed faster than expected and allowed him to return to practice last week in a limited fashion. There was building excitement, both in Indy and Philly (given the draft compensation tied to Wentz’s playing time this year), that he would be ready for the opener, and he was even cleared to return to practice fully on Monday.
Except he never did.
That’s when his “personal decision” — you guessed it — came back to bite not only him but the rest of his teammates as well. Wentz, along with two other Colts, was placed on the COVID list on Monday after being a close contact with a coach who tested positive, meaning he has to stay away from the facility for at least the next five days. That news confirmed what everyone suspected: Wentz personally decided not to get vaccinated. And we know this because if he had been vaccinated, NFL protocols state that he wouldn’t have needed to quarantine for the five-day minimum that’s required of unvaccinated players who come into close contact with someone who tested positive.
Here’s more from Albert Breer of SI.com on how this can become a major issue for the Colts during the season (with the bold emphasis my own):
The widely-held assumption that Carson Wentz hasn’t been vaccinated was confirmed on Monday, as he landed on the COVID-19 reserve list as a close contact (vaccinated players don’t get shelved as a result of being close contacts). He’ll be eligible to return to the team on Thursday, and that timing actually works out for the Colts in that it should give Wentz time to get rehab work in and get back on track to try and play in the opener on Sept. 13. But it certainly should be taken as a warning sign on what having your quarterback unvaccinated might mean for teams. Fast-forward a week, and Wentz would be returning to the team on the back end of its preparation for the opener against Seattle. Fast-forward another week, and the Colts would be losing Wentz with almost no notice for that opener. [si.com]
And some people in Indy are nearing a breaking point with the former Eagles quarterback. That includes Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel, who was the same person who ripped Wentz a couple weeks back over his decision not to speak out in support of the vaccine.
At the time, Doyel suggested the Colts might be wise to simply move on from the QB, even though they just traded multiple high draft picks to acquire him, and let one of their two young QBs take over. So it’s probably not a surprise that after this latest Wentz news, Doyel again went in on the 28-year-old quarterback, saying among other things that he’d “help pack [Wentz’s] bags” if the team got rid of him.
Here’s more from Doyel’s latest pay-walled column, courtesy of NJ.com’s Brian Fonseca:
“This was so avoidable, but these guys, for whatever reason, have decided to ignore every credible bit of scientific evidence to listen to crackpots or despots or whatever voice is trying to tell them: Pssst, you know better than every credible epidemiologist in the country.
Hell, do these guys even know what an epidemiologist is? It’s someone who studies outbreaks of diseases, Darius. It’s someone who went to school for a decade or more, just to learn how to best combat viruses like COVID-19, Carson.”
Doyel left the most vicious of his attacks for Wentz to close out the column.
“Carson Wentz is the worst of the bunch, in a football sense, because he’s the most important player on the team. He’s the most indispensable player on roster, and the Colts have no idea if he’ll make it through any given week without having to go back onto the COVID-19 list simply for being too close to a teammate who tests positive. I’ll remind you that, when the Colts acquired Wentz, I defended his arrival despite the reports out of Philadelphia that had called him a bad teammate. And selfish.
Well what do you know.
Turns out, Carson Wentz is a bad teammate. He’s selfish. Turns out he fits right into this Colts locker room.” [nj.com]
[Note: “Darius” refers to Colts lineback Darius Leonard, who was not among those the Colts placed on the COVID list but has made anti-vaccine comments on social media.]
Selfish? Bad teammate? Where have I heard that before?
Anyway, we don’t just share this with you to pile on Wentz. The reason this is important for Eagles fans is that there is trade compensation tied to the number of snaps Wentz plays this season. If that number is over 75% (or 70% and the Colts make the playoffs), the second-round pick that Indy gave up for Wentz becomes a first, giving the Eagles three first-round picks next year. That’s big for a team who could be in the market for a new quarterback.
The timing, given that he should still be able to return and get up to speed for the opener, isn’t actually the worst for the Eagles or for the Colts. But there’s a flip side to that coin. Wentz is only missing a handful of practices after already missing a bunch for his foot injury. He’s not missing any games. And he’s liking not feeling the consequences of his “personal decision” in any meaningful way. In other words, it’s hard to see this changing Wentz’s opinion on getting the vaccine, although we’ve been wrong before. But the potential consequences could be much greater if this happens during the season.
As Breer alluded to above, Wentz not being vaccinated means that he could miss a game at any time without much warning, even if he doesn’t test positive. And if he does test positive, then as an un-vaccinated individual he not only faces stiffer protocols but is also at greater risk for the more severe symptoms that can come with COVID, while those who are fully vaccinated overwhelmingly seem to suffer more mild symptoms when they do test positive.
Meanwhile his teammates, who could have bonuses in their contracts tied to performances or wins (that certainly will be easier to hit with their QB1 on the field), will continue to practice without him — something that’s become all too familiar this summer — and hope that his “personal decision” doesn’t wind up costing them financially. Or worse…
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