One of the unfortunate things that we as sports fans can be victims of doing is seeing groups as monoliths, rather than individuals. When the MLB and players union were going back and forth about terms of returning to play, so many people were talking about how they were simply tired of it, some even saying they don’t care at this point if baseball happens.
It’s good to remember, though, that what we’re talking about here is the conditions under which individuals with families will be performing their jobs under dangerous conditions. Yes, it’s non-essential, and voluntary. Yes, they make a lot of money. Yes, there are more dangerous jobs. But we shouldn’t begrudge others of having economic or employment freedoms that we wish we ourselves were afforded.
Derek Watt is just one of the thousands of players that make up the NFLPA, and he has a young child, a young family. I’m sure he thinks about that when he thinks about going back on the field while an unusually infectious virus is affecting millions of people. He recently spoke on SiriusXM about that among a number of other topics.
“We’re paying attention. Obviously you want to be informed and have the latest, up-to-date stuff, but it honestly is changing every day”, the Steelers fullback said of the discussions between the NFL and the union. “There’ve been some calls that we’ve been able to hop on with the [NFLPA] and things like that, but honestly, it’s constantly changing”.
“There’s really no right answer at this point”, he went on. “There’s so much that has to still happen between protocols, between the league and how they’re gonna handle things at the facilities and travel and all that stuff. Doctors have different recommendations. So we’re just trying to hash out everything in that regard”.
The Steelers are set to open training camp July 28, along with most of the rest of the league. We’re now into the second week of July, and there remain huge issues for the two sides to work out. I believe the pressure of the deadline will lead to resolutions.
But I think we should all remember that these are still people with families who are being asked to play—and they want to play. So many players have talked about how much they miss football. It’s not like they don’t want to work.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to get myself ready to play these games and get ready for a season”, Watt said as he heads into his first season in Pittsburgh. “We obviously take that health and safety into play, but that’s not my expertise; it’s not my field. I’m gonna let the people who handle that stuff make sure that we’re all gonna be as safe as possible and we’re all gonna be able to have a season”.