Unvaxxed Quarterback Carson Wentz Wants Your Trust

"Trust me.” That’s what 28-year-old Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz kept saying, over and over, in his press conference last week. “Trust me.” He said it so often, one wondered if there was a used car for sale somewhere behind the podium.

Wentz was explaining his choice to remain unvaccinated, calling it “a personal decision” between him and his family—even though the NFL and NFLPA have attempted to move heaven and earth to educate every player as to why they need to get this done. Failure to do so could cost a team very dearly, especially when the player in question is your star free-agent quarterback on a team that has serious playoff aspirations. Yet Wentz kept going back to those two words: Trust me. If the Colts players and fans trusted him before, he has now relinquished the right to any such dispensation.

Wentz’s vaccination stance has already cost him and his team. He recently had to take a five-day absence during the preseason because he was deemed to have been in “close contact“ with somebody who had the virus. That penalty was what forced Wentz to come forward and face the press.

If Wentz tests positive, is unvaccinated, and remains unvaccinated, the repercussions will not only cost him—they will fall on his team. If the Colts have to start one of their untested backups at the most important position on the field, the team will suffer. If he is even found to have been around his teammates after testing positive and they have to forfeit, everyone loses a game check. He wants “trust” from the other Colts, but his hand is now in their pockets.

Of course, being unvaccinated is not a personal decision. Not in the slightest. It’s a community decision: a question of public health. To not get vaccinated is like telling your community to get screwed. In this case, Carson, as an alleged team leader, is telling his teammates exactly how much he thinks of them. One can only wonder if they will respond in kind when 260-pound men try to knock him into next week.

Wentz also represents a small minority of NFL players who have taken toxic masculinity and turned it into a medical condition. They act like it’s some kind of act of weakness to get a vaccination, that it makes them soft, or is some kind of crutch. For these self-described Alphas, the “p” in Pfizer might as well stand for “participation trophy.”

Several of these players seem to be auditioning for a show on Fox. Most infamously, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley wants the world to know that he doesn’t trust anybody, and, with diet and exercise, needs no vaccine. And if he gets Covid, he’ll handle it like he’s Gary Cooper facing down Lee Van Cleef. Like with Wentz, he exhibits minimal concern that he might put others at risk.

It’s truly remarkable how this toxicity can affect a nonsensical approach toward modern medicine. A vaccine is weakness, but addictive pain killers—Toredol and Vicodin come to mind—are the manly price an NFL player must pay to play injured.

This hyper-individualistic pioneer mentality is also why it’s somehow more acceptable to go discover some other kind of solution—to ingest horse dewormers or some other “discovery”—instead of relying on Big Government or Big Pharma to meet their health needs, never mind that such medications weren’t exactly conjured on a pot-bellied stove in an Idaho farmhouse. This mentality also fits Wentz to a tee, who was lionized post–North Dakota State for being a kind of All-American bow-hunting outdoorsman of the first order. But you don’t play football in the woods. For all its faults, football is a community game: a community where everyone is in close quarters at all times, a community where everyone needs to act in concert and do what they are supposed to do—or the chances of someone getting hurt increase exponentially. You depend on the person next to you to know their job and do it. The job of Wentz’s teammates is to protect him at all costs. It’s a shame he does not return the favor.

Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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