Coronavirus fucking stinks. I hate COVID-19. All my homies hate COVID-19. But I don't hate Dont'a Hightower for doing what he feels most comfortable with during the stupidest time in modern American history. I wont fault anyone who doesn't trust that the NFL is going to take player safety seriously. When the world was normal they didn't take player safety seriously, I have no clue why they'd switch gears and rebrand now. People are going to point to European soccer as why the non-bubble system can work for sports. And while it certainly appears to be going off without any major hitches, there's one key factor missing from that equation: European soccer takes place in, yanno, Europe. Countries that are taking this more seriously get to have sports and normalcy while we have to suffer in-school suspension staring at a white wall while all our classmates get to play kickball at recess.
The MLB attempted precisely one (1) weekend of games before eight Marlins caught the Rona and forced a game they weren't even playing in to be postponed and likely cancelled. And baseball is the least contact sport of them all, so why should any football player feel confident that their situation would be any better, if better at all? Is it possible to pull off? I think so, but I don't fault anyone for playing it safe and keeping their loved ones at a lower risk. And while we don't assume these world class athletes are at high risk, right this second Eduardo Rodriguez is unsure about his immediate future as his heart still hasn't fully recovered after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Von Miller caught it months ago and says he still feels like his lungs aren't completely back to normal. This disease fucking sucks, we all want it to be over, but just ignoring it and pretending we don't have to deal with this shit isn't the answer and it's insane how many people believe that to be true.
Hightower just brought a newborn home, his mother is high risk, and he's been paid. He has the luxury of sitting out, waiting until next year and getting back to the game he's dominated at every level. The guys I'm unsure about the players on their first contract. Hightower has a job waiting for him upon his return. The younger guys still fighting to make a name for themselves, scratching and clawing to even keep a roster spot who don't have guaranteed money already in the bank? It's going to be near impossible for them to look at this situation and not lean towards playing. If anything veterans opting out may push them more towards playing in an attempt to show they belong at this level in the absence of starters. And I know this has been all doom and gloom, but so far only 10 players league wide have opted out of the season. It's early, I expect that number to grow, but most players are going to play. I think it's interesting that half of those 10 are Patriots. I wont use this as yet another example of the Patriots players being substantially smarter than everyone else, natural born leaders amidst times of chaos and uncertainty, reason number 578,982 of why they've been able to sustain an unrivaled streak of excellence in all of pro sports, because that would be unbecoming of me at this time. Perhaps down the road I'll bring it up, but certainly not now. Not like this.