As the NFL and NFLPA continue to debate the merits of their side of the argument about return-to-play protocols amid a pandemic, we all must find ways to cope with the new realities around us every day. Some are more prone to limiting ourselves than others, admittedly, but then perhaps some have more on the line as well.
No doubt there are some players who are not and will not be taking the coronavirus seriously, but as a representative body, the NFLPA is trying to do everything it can to ensure that the working environment the players return to is as safe as it can be while still being football.
In the meantime, however, they have been on their own, largely left to their own devices, not just to prepare for the season, but also to simply function and to try to live as normal and healthy a life as possible, both physically and mentally.
T.J. Watt recently spoke to USA Today in Wisconsin to discuss how his offseason is going, heading into his fourth season under very different circumstances, given the pandemic that has put the 2020 season under duress and cancelled all in-person practices.
“This whole offseason I’ve been back here in Wisconsin, for the most part, and just been able to keep training”, he said, as he has done with his older siblings. “And being able to hang out with my family is huge”.
The Watt family is clearly a close-knit group, in which J.J. and T.J. spar over who will be the favorite uncle to their nephew, Derek’s son. T.J. has also had his girlfriend with him in Wisconsin, at their family home, where they have a workout facility that they all share. But of course only the younger brothers are going east when the time comes.
“A thing that we always talk about is staying read so you don’t have to get ready. I think that’s huge, because at some point we’re gonna go back to Pittsburgh, and it’s gonna be time to train, it’s gonna be time to play football, and I don’t have to go through an acclimation period where potential injuries can play a factor”, Watt said
“I’m taking the time to really focus on my diet, focus on getting great sleep, mentally, seeing my friends and my family as much as possible and being safe in doing that as well, and really just training hard. I’m very confident that I’m ready whenever the time comes to play football again”.
Considering the season he is coming off of last year, in which he finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting, that’s good to hear, though far from surprising. Let’s also hope that some of the right tackles he faces are less ready than he is when the time comes.