More than 93 percent of NFL players are vaccinated. The Colts, Vikings and Bills trail behind other teams, though, and Indianapolis General Manager Chris Ballard conceded Wednesday that there are “consequences” to being unvaccinated.
The Colts already have had star players Quenton Nelson and Carson Wentz miss practice time for being high-risk close contacts. Unvaccinated players are required under the league’s COVID-19 protocols to miss five days; vaccinated players do not have to isolate.
Linebacker Darius Leonard opened up Thursday about being unvaccinated.
“I think that’s a personal decision of mine,” Leonard said, via Zak Keefer of TheAthletic.com. “I’m just a down South guy. I want to see more. I want to learn more. I want to get more educated about it. Just got to think about it. Don’t want to rush into it. I’ve got to see everything. I’m listening to all the vaccinated guys here. I’m not — you see on social media — I’m not pro-vaxx. I’m not anti-vaxx. I’ve got to learn. When you don’t know about something, you’ve got to educate yourself more about it and figure out what it is, and you’ve got to make a decision from there. You’ve got to make sure you understand your decision and understand what’s going in your body and the long-term effects and stuff like that.
“I think once I get a grasp of it — just like the playbook — you’ve got to get comfortable with something. You can say, ‘OK, I’m going to put this in my body.'”
At this point, it’s unclear what any more information anyone needs. NFL teams have made medical experts available to address any questions or concerns. Many cited the fact that the vaccines are not FDA approved, but the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine became the first to get that stamp last month.
Football players play a dangerous game, knowing exactly what the cumulative effects of hits do to their brains, yet play it anyway. They take supplements that are not FDA approved. They take painkilling injections not knowing what those might do to their health long term. So the argument that a player needs more information about a vaccine is unfathomable to many.
But Leonard is right: The NFLPA has made the vaccine a personal decision. He has made his, and he — and the Colts — will have to live with whatever consequences come of that decision.