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Talk Of Game Dates, Availability Loses Sight Of Importance Of Players’ Wellbeing Coming First Amid Covid Outbreak

The coronavirus has taken the center of attention in many ways and in many areas, particularly in the United State, but also around the world. It has become the focal point of the NFL as the league experiences its latest significant outbreak in Baltimore, with the Ravens having had at least 12 players test positive, seemingly stemming from a willfully negligent strength and conditioning coach.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, too, placed three players on the Reserve/Covid-19 List yesterday, those being defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Isaiah Buggs in addition to offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins. They join rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson, who has been sidelined now for over two weeks.

The Ravens’ positives also include a substantial number of offensive and defensive linemen, namely defenders Calais Campbell, Jason Madubuike, and Jihad Ward, and offensive players Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, long snapper Morgan Cox, fullback Patrick Ricard, linebacker Pernell McPhee, and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram have also tested positive, and reportedly, third-string quarterback Trace McSorley has also tested positive after originally being placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List last week as a high-risk close contact.

With Iman Marshall, a young cornerback on the Reserve/Injured List, that’s 17 players between the two organizations who are on reserve after testing positive for Covid-19, with nose tackle Brandon Marshall on the list as a high-risk close contact, who could potentially test positive as well.

Offensive and defensive linemen in particular are of greater concern, because they have a higher risk of suffering adverse side effects. Campbell Tweeted yesterday that “you don’t want to catch covid”, speaking from experience, adding, “this virus is brutal!”. The message strongly implies that he is among those who are experiencing symptoms. “I pray no one else has to go thru this”.

This is just a reminder that what we’re dealing with is much more important than football, especially when the plug the economic factor out of the equation. The only reason the games are being played is because of the economic impact, so what we’ve been dealing with all along is risk mitigation, as opposed to elimination.

The first and foremost priority is the health and wellbeing of those infected with the virus, and those who have been put at risk as a result, including the players’ families. Families battle this virus together; we should remember this.

We have spent so much time talking about how these men becoming infected with a highly contagious virus will affect the timing of a sporting event and whether or not their availability in that game will impact the probability of their team being able to win.

We should be acknowledging that their wellbeing comes first ahead of the game being played, let alone the results of the game. The Steelers expressed this same sentiment, understanding that all players are in the same boat. Athletes are generally young and healthy and in a relatively low-risk group, but that doesn’t mean every one of them will avoid consequences.

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