Patriots stud linebacker Dont’a Hightower has led a group of five Patriots players that will be opting out of the 2020 NFL season. Eventually Patrick Chung joined the group as well bringing the total to six. Hightower just had a baby recently so I can’t blame him for wanting to protect his and his families health. In fact I can’t blame a single player for opting out of the NFL season. The NFL has made no plans to adjust for the COVID pandemic, they plan on flying around the country, traveling from stadium to stadium to play games. Kinda like what the MLB is doing and the MLB couldn’t even finish opening weekend without the Miami Marlins having a team wide outbreak. If I were an NFL player seeing what is happening in the MLB I would be concerned for my health as well.
NFL teams are so much larger than MLB teams so the chance of someone getting sick and transmitting it along is naturally higher. We’ve seen how traveling around the country has gone for baseball. Games have already been cancelled or postponed and many players are concerned for their health. So it does not surprise me to see several players in the NFL already opt out of the season for their own health and the health of their loved ones. Austin Ekeler, San Diego Los Angeles Charger’s running back, said he felt like the NFL can’t beat COVID but he’s going to try.
[Source] – “I’m not confident in the entire system because it is so contagious,” Ekeler said. “There’s a reason we’re going through all these shutdowns and things like that. There’s not been really any progress made as far as containing this thing.” Just to be clear, Ekeler isn’t going after the NFL’s handling of the pandemic — he’s just saying pointing out the country ain’t exactly in the clear yet. FYI, Ekeler is set to report to training camp Tuesday (today) — just days after MLB confirmed a COVID outbreak with the Miami Marlins that some say could tank the entire MLB season. “I felt like, somewhat like a lab rat to see if this will work or not.”
I can see how Ekeler and many of the players that have already opted out would feel like lab rats. Those players are watching what is happening in the MLB right now and realize that they will be traveling around the country just like baseball players are currently. The NFL has had the most time to prepare their season and ensure the safety of their players and they were barely able to negotiate a safe way to return to training camps.
The NFL should be safer than the MLB based off testing times alone. When it takes a test two days to come back with results and MLB is playing games almost every day it is clearly very difficult to catch positive cases quick enough. The NFL still plans on playing games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, but it’s still one game a week per team. Finding players with positive tests and isolating them should be easier because of this, but people are going to get sick with the amount of travel and player contact. The NHL, NBA, and MLS have proven that the only effective way to keep players consistently healthy is to put them in a bubble. Zero cases over two weeks for the MLS, the bubble works.
I don’t know how. But this will work in the Patriots favor long run. Bill Belichick the Emperor is letting his team sit out for their own health and the health of their family (smart) and his best players are leaving so the Tank for Lawrence train is pulling into the station. Seriously I’m half convinced the Patriots will have so many guys opt out that they’ll be bad enough to get Lawrence. Even NFL executives think this is some ploy by Bill Belichick.
Actual text exchange with an NFL executive today after a sixth Patriot opted out: Him: “You know Bill is masterminding all of this somehow.” Me: “For what reason?” Him: “I don’t know! That’s why he is who he is!” — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 28, 2020
It doesn’t matter what Belichick does. He’s probably doing nothing and letting the players chose on their own accord because the are grown men with families but Bill Belichick can’t keep getting away with this!
Patriots already signed former MVP Cam Newton in the offseason. With Dont’a Hightower opting out of the season the Patriots just got a whole lot more cap room for the season. You know what high caliber edge rusher hasn’t been signed and would probably be cool playing under a one year deal for Bill Belichick’s defense? Jadaveon Clowney. Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers and Dont’a Hightower not playing due to COVID might land the Patriots former first overall pick Cam Newton and former first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney in the same offseason. The Patriots are evil.
Unless you can do the job of a professional athlete, no being the best player on your high school team doesn’t count, than you can’t be mad at a player for opting out of a season chocked full of health risks that could be brought back home. Breaking your leg or tearing your hamstring is one thing, but getting sick and bringing it home and getting your infant child or immunocompromised family member sick is something different. Family has to come before football.
I really hope the season isn’t cancelled due to health risks or too many players opting out or something. I want football but damn traveling around the country to play seems risky and likely to fail.