Jim Irsay has a possible message for his unvaccinated players

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As the NFL continues to regard the pandemic as endemic to its population of players, coaches, and staff, Colts owner Jim Irsay still seems to be bugged about the extent to which anti-vaccination sentiment impacted his team’s hopes in 2021.

In a recent video shot from the tarmac outside his private jet, Irsay arguably was sending a message to those who weren’t all in to do whatever needed to be done to help the franchise’s chances, including the potential unavailability of a player due to stubborn refusal to get the COVID vaccine.

“We have allowed, and I have allowed, doubt, fear, and a lack of faith to slip into our DNA. And it will not stand,” Irsay said on January 14. “I promise you one thing. Anyone walking into the 56th Street complex this year will be walking in with all chips in. Period. If you don’t want to put all your chips in on the table for winning the next one, then don’t walk in the building.”

Irsay later said his comments weren’t directed at quarterback Carson Wentz, the team’s highest-profile unvaccinated player. However, Irsay didn’t say that the comments weren’t meant for the team’s multiple unvaccinated players.

In a new video, this one coming from inside the private plane, Irsay tells a story that has been oft-repeated during the current vaccination debate, primarily to persuade those who place faith over science. As the story goes, a man caught in a flood continuously refuses help from others, insisting that God will save him. Then, after the man drowns and goes to heaven, the man asks why God didn’t save him. God explains that He tried, in the form of the multiple offers of help from others.

Irsay doesn’t directly connect his anecdote to the vaccine debate. He arguably didn’t have to. He already has said enough on the issue to connect the dots.

While it’s unclear whether vaccination status will be an impediment to playing in 2022, Irsay quite possibly remains apoplectic that multiple players refused to get vaccinated, if only to enhance their availability to play, in 2021. Beyond that, the vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, with only conspiracy theorists, contrarians, and charlatans hoping to profit from the vaccine-reluctant suggesting otherwise — usually without a scintilla of proof.

The fact that Irsay’s comments require deciphering shows how sensitive the issue currently is. Surely, he doesn’t want to alienate season-ticket holders who also may refuse to be vaccinated. But at least he’s trying, in his own way, to get people to understand that, like all other vaccines that humans have gotten to help protect and eradicate serious diseases from the population, this one should be embraced and not feared or shunned.

It’s the helicopter sent from God to airlift the drowning man from his roof. Too many people are irrationally suspicious that the helicopter is there to whisk them away to somewhere other than safety.

Jim Irsay has a possible message for his unvaccinated players originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

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