Alabama Football: SEC Media Days, Vaccines and Michael Irvin

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

SEC Media Days began with a bang Monday. Alabama Football and the other SEC programs were put on notice by SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey. Last week, we advised Alabama football fans to get ready for a debate no one wants to hear.

In SEC Media Days remarks on Monday, Greg Sankey opened the debate and also provided clarity on the issue.

"As reported by Andy Katz – SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is making it clear. The year of rescheduling games is over. If one team can’t play due to COVID then it’s going to be a forfeit. He is imploring his member schools to get up to the 80 percent vaccination level. So far only 6 of 14 have done so."

Ross Dellenger elaborated,

"SEC teams that reach 85% are not required to test regularly or wear masks inside school facilities."

The bottom line is clear. Below a team vaccination rate of 85 percent, SEC teams will be required to conduct regular COVID tests. There will be quarantine rules for players who test positive. Quarantined players will likely miss games. Last season, the SEC considered whether teams could play a scheduled game based on players available in their total roster and also in position groups. Such guidelines have not been publicly discussed for the 2021 season.

Sankey’s comments indicate the SEC will mandate minimum participation thresholds and teams unable to reach them will be forced to forfeit games. Sankey could not have been more clear. Players must get vaccinated or they risk their teams losing games by forfeits.

As clear as Sankey was, NFL great, Michael Irvin was even more direct, when talking about vaccinations and NFL players.

"not being one of the [85 percent vaccinated teams] says there’s other things to a great number of people on this team that are more important than winning championships"

Michael David Smith summarized Irvin’s concerns, voiced in a conversation with ESPN’s Todd Archer.

"If you’re unvaccinated that means you don’t want to win badly enough"

How will Alabama Football respond?

How much more clear can it be? Will it be enough? Alabama Football coach, Nick Saban has lobbied for fellow Alabamians to get vaccinated. Yet, the vaccination rates in the state are near the bottom of the nation.

Will that situation change in light of the potential negative impact on an Alabama Football game? If large numbers of others in the state exercise their individual liberty to avoid vaccinations, players may make the same decision. After hearing from Greg Sankey and Michael Irvin, hopefully, players better understand, there are potential consequences from their no-vaccine decisions.

Alabama Football SEC Media Days attendees. dark. Next

Alabama football fans will have to wait until Wednesday for Nick Saban’s latest comments on the vaccination issue.