Whole Nine Sports

Football and Covid-19

John Esposito
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2020 has been without a doubt an extremely tough year.  A pandemic that quarantined us to our homes for months.  The world divided into mask wearers and non-mask wearers.  A country divided politically. Sports has always been there to take our minds off things, and we didn’t even have that.  Slowly but surely, we started to come back to reality.  The UFC started us off and never missed a beat, the NBA locked everyone in a bubble at the Happiest Place on Earth, even though Florida is a hot bed for infections.  It didn’t matter they have gone off pretty much without a hitch.  The NHL is almost done with their playoff tree, having no major issues.  The MLS is at the Finals of their shortened season with no problems.  Our American Pastime is in the crux of many issues, with positive cases popping up all over for several teams.  Football is at a crossroads right now, cancelling all NFL preseason games, but allowing teams to report for camp.  The MAC just announced the cancellation of their college season.  People need football, but at what cost?

69 NFL players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season.  Not huge names and in the grand scheme of things not a lot considering the NFL has over 2,800 players right now.  Putting health over your career is not an easy decision for anyone to make.  You may think it is but having a work ethic knowing that you put your employer in a bad spot is something most take seriously.  I respect anyone that has made this decision and hold no ill feelings toward them, some fans have.

Some may not want to believe but football, both college and pro are a business.  They are no longer just for the enjoyment of the fans.  These guys get paid a ton of money (obviously not college) and fans look at them as almost mythical figures.  They forget they are human and have families, some may have health concerns.  Nate Solder of the NY Giants has opted out, he is a cancer survivor, and now he has the unenviable task of caring for a young child that has cancer.  Imagine being in his shoes, fans actually are happy he opted out.  I’m not wishing the season doesn’t happen by any means, but we don’t know the situation some of these guys are in give them the benefit of the doubt.

I won’t get political this is not the forum for that, we talk football and I will stick to that.

College football has also been rocked with opt outs.  As I mentioned the MAC has already canceled their season, my hometown team UCONN was the first to cancel their season.  Several projected top 5 picks have opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL draft.  Two of the best defensive players in the world will not be seen on a football field, Micah Parsons, LB at Penn State and Gregory Rousseau, Edge at Miami.  North Carolina had D.J. Ford, Javon Terry, and Bryce Watts all opt out, I mention them because they all play defensive back.  Talk about destroying your depth. 

We have dealt so many things in this world that seem unbeatable, but nothing has affected sports like the spread of Covid-19.  I want football season badly, believe but I wouldn’t be willing to risk the safety and health of everybody involved for my own selfish reasons.