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Bear Hugs and Bubbles: Why Some N.F.L. Players Opted Out

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  • Bear Hugs and Bubbles: Why Some N.F.L. Players Opted Out


    Bear Hugs and Bubbles: Why Some N.F.L. Players Opted Out

    “I’m literally bear-hugging another creature on the other side of the ball every single play,” Leo Koloamatangi, a Jets offensive lineman, said. “If that guy has any symptoms, I’m going to get them.”

    By Ben Shpigel
    Aug. 8, 2020

    When his daughter, Marae, is old enough, Philadelphia Eagles receiver Marquise Goodwin will teach her to put family first. He will say that she should prioritize the people she loves most when making decisions. He will share his own choice, made five months after she was born: He will sit out the 2020 N.F.L. season.

    Picking family over football during the coronavirus pandemic, Goodwin was one of 68 players who the N.F.L. has listed as having opted out by Thursday’s deadline even as the league, despite surging transmission rates around the country, contends that the season will begin, as scheduled, on Sept. 10.

    The players who opted out represent a microcosm of N.F.L. rosters: rookies and veterans, practice-squadders and starters, all of whom determined after careful consideration to lessen one risk while absorbing another. In order to keep themselves and their families safer, they will sacrifice the chance to compete for a Super Bowl, forgo showcasing themselves for more lucrative contracts and, in some cases, cede starting jobs and roster spots that may or may not be there next season.

    As part of an agreement between the N.F.L. and the Players Association, players with one of the 15 medical conditions that the league regards as high risk for contracting the virus could earn $350,000 this year, while players who decided not to play will receive a $150,000 advance toward next year’s salary.

    Half of the players who opted out are offensive and defensive linemen, who are in closest contact with other players during practices and games. Leo Koloamatangi, an offensive lineman on the Jets who opted out, said he was resigned to contracting the virus had he chosen to play.

    “Where I play, I’m literally bear-hugging another creature on the other side of the ball every single play,” Koloamatangi, 26, said in an interview. “If that guy has any symptoms, I’m going to get them.” He added, “For myself, I couldn’t take those chances.”

    Neither could Goodwin, 29, whose family bore a string of personal tragedies. He would not permit himself to perhaps cause another. His wife, Morgan, twice endured pregnancy complications, losing a prematurely born son in November 2017, and then, in November 2018, twin boys.

    The first time, Goodwin elected to play the same day, Nov. 12, for the San Francisco 49ers, and after catching an 83-yard touchdown pass he blew a kiss to the heavens. He was with the team for a game in Tampa, Fla., the next year when Morgan woke up with contractions. She suggested he come home but never explicitly said she needed him to, knowing how seriously he took his career. He flew home, skipping the game, to be with her.

    “I told myself at some point that I’ve got to hold it down for my family,” Goodwin said in an interview. “I can’t let work and the check and the money dictate decisions that I truly want to make.”

    Goodwin had been expecting training camp to be pushed back and when it wasn’t he grew stressed about leaving his family, outside Dallas. His mother, Tamina, takes care of his younger sister, Deja, who has cerebral palsy, and Morgan’s mother looks after a niece and a nephew. If either Morgan or Marae fell ill there wouldn’t be a family member who could care for them. Then he heard that Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the only medical doctor playing in the N.F.L., was opting out. Other players followed, and Goodwin felt more at peace with joining them.

    ImageKoloamatangi weighed all the factors, including his salary in the decision to opt out. He will, in effect, be making about a fraction of his $750,000 salary — “an uncomfortable difference.”

    Koloamatangi weighed all the factors, including his salary in the decision to opt out. He will, in effect, be making about a fraction of his $750,000 salary — “an uncomfortable difference.”
    “I’m always hesitant to make any serious moves because you never know how the N.F.L. will treat you, you know?” Goodwin said. “I was super excited because it was the first time in my life that I made a decision I’m comfortable living with the result of, as far as work is concerned.”

  • #2
    What a dope. You just compromised your chances to make it in the NFL over irrational fear buddy.

    Probably a CNN/MSNBC watcher. LOL
    "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword"

    Comment


    • #3
      No players who test positive are allowed to enter an NFL facility, practice or play games

      What is so hard for these dopes to understand ?

      You’ll be safer at an NFL facility then you will be walking around your local Trader Joe’s

      Comment

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