THE FIRST SIGN OF LEADERSHIP WE’VE SEEN IN THE NCAA COMES FROM A 20-YEAR-OLD
“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19. Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes – Players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”
–Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was one of several high profile NCAA players who spoke out this week expressing their interest in playing the 2020 NCAA season The #WeWantToPlay initiative arose amidst initial rumblings that presidents of the Pac-12 and Big Ten contemplated cancelling their college football season. As of writing this, the two conferences have officially postponed their season to this spring while the Big 12 has confirmed a modified version of their original schedule. (Trevor Lawrence via Twitter)
NCAA: NOTHIN’ (BUT) COCKY, ARROGANT A**HOLES
“The egos in that group (commissioners) can’t ever seem to be put aside. D**k measuring contest nonstop.”
— An unnamed Power 5 athletic director gives us some insight as to why the decision making surrounding COVID-19 has been an unmitigated disaster. Another report suggested that Big Ten presidents didn’t consider the possibility of cancelling their season until days prior to their decision. (Jeff Goodman via Twitter)
NOT EXACTLY THE MOST GLOWING REVIEW
“I can’t f****in’ breathe under this thing!”
–LSU linebacker Soni Fonua took to his Instagam to showcase the COVID-19 helmet face shields while in the locker room before practice. The video was one of the first demonstrations we had seen from players of “masked” football in action.
“It’s like breathing in a Ziploc bag.”
— Chiming in from the background of the video, offensive lineman Austin Deculus helped paint a better image of what the masks were like. (Master Tes, Bleacher Report via Twitter)
A SHORT-TERM SACRIFICE
“Crazy that me choosing my family’s wellbeing over a game comes with so called fans attacking and questioning me and saying I’m selfish. No you guys are selfish for thinking that football is bigger than life. Oh by the way my girl’s grandfather passed from COVID. [You] understand now?”
— Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White opens up about fans’ reaction to him opting out of this season due to COVID-19. White, who had the opportunity to prove himself to be one of the league’s best cornerbacks last season, is delaying what would assumedly be a lucrative pay day by opting out. (Tre’Davious White via Twitter)
SOWING SOME DOUBT
“I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it.”
— Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is dubious that the 2020 NFL season should be full steam ahead as it currently is. Beckham did not opt out of the season, however. (SportsCenter via Twitter)
GAME PLANNING IN THE BIG APPLE
“Listen, I got a lot of trust in the plan put forward by the league. We spent a lot of time on this. When these players left, or we signed off for vacation and the coaches took a break for about a month, it was 24/7 around the clock really working on making sure we got the facilities in order so we can bring out players in and have them work safely. We’re doing everything we can to be not just compliant, but make sure we’re staying ahead of issues that may arise…In terms of the optimism for a season, right now, we got 16 games on a schedule and I look forward to playing every one.”
— New York Giants head coach Joe Judge has been faced with a number of curveballs in his inaugural season as head coach but has handled the NFL’s COVID-19 precautions like a veteran.
“I don’t have a crystal ball. What we’ve been given as far as how to put our players and our staff in the best position possible, you can tell that these guys have spent a lot of time and there’s a lot of work and they went to a lot of different people to give us the best opportunity that we possibly can. I think it’s going to be on us as an organization to do everything we possibly can to put our guys in the right spot and put our staff in the right position by following the guidelines that they’ve given us.”
— New York Jets head coach Adam Gase is operating with a more cautious optimism compared to his crosstown counterpart. New York state—specifically the metropolitan area—was a COVID epicenter at the beginning of the pandemic, potentially leading to these measured approaches to the virus. (New York Daily News)
’I’LL TELL YA WHAT, MAN, THIS CORONAVIRUS IS NO JOKE’
“The Raiders players [logged] onto a Zoom call last week expecting to see Jon Gruden. Instead they saw Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coach and the assistant head coach. Bisaccia told them, ‘Guys, Coach Gruden has COVID, and he’s at the hospital now and he’s being taken care of.’ And the players were taken aback, woah. They shortly thereafter told them, ‘Y’know what, we’re just putting you on a little bit.’ And it wasn’t a joke. What it was was the team illustrating to the players tha this could happen at any moment to anybody…The point to the players was ‘You’ve gotta stay ready, you’ve gotta stay ready, everybody’s gotta stay ready’ because this virus that Gruden himself said they want to ‘crush’ could pop up, and it doesn’t discriminate.”
— NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo. The Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff put their players through a bit of a mental roller coaster this week by feigning that head coach Jon Gruden had tested positive for COVID-19. (Mike Garofalo, NFL Network via Twitter)
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GURL THOMAS AND RICHARD HERMAN
“The Seahawks cut rookie CB Kemah Siverand this week after he was caught on video trying to sneak a female visitor into the team hotel, per sources.
Clear message on the responsibility everyone has in the NFL’s COVID-19 world: Put the team at risk, suffer the consequences.”
“The woman was wearing Seahawks gear in an attempt to disguise her as a player, I’m told. It did not work.”
— Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Kemah Siverand was cut from the team on August 13th after he was caught attempting to sneak an unnamed female companion into the team hotel. In an attempt to disguise the woman, Siverand dressed her in Seahawks team gear. Siverand came in this offseason as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks. (Tom Pelissero, NFL Network via Twitter)
THERE’S A TOMLIN-ISM FOR EVERYTHING
“That was the jello we couldn’t get back in the box.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin dropped this quote when asked about players coming into Steelers camp in good physical condition, the only thing they could control during the pandemic and subsequent quarantine. I can’t tell you if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between, but it sure is a quote. (Missi Matthews, Pittsburgh Steelers via Twitter)
YOU THINK IT WAS THE MOUSTACHE?
“Did not contract the virus. It took one look at me and ran the other way. Probably in its best interest.”
— Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew was listed as a false positive during initial rounds of COVID testing headed into camp. When pressed on the test result, Minshew answered in the most Gardner Minshew way possible. (Barstool Sports)
’HIT BIRDS, WE’VE LOST THRUST, WE MAY END UP IN THE HUDSON’
“[The loss of Jamal Adams] really doesn’t [affect how the Jets use safeties]. We’re very multiple with how we do those things anyway. Jamal may get bored there because they don’t use their safety-type things with all the complexities … maybe not showing what they’re doing as much as we do,”
— New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams threw a jab at the Seattle Seahawks while being asked questions about changes the Jets secondary would see following such a big loss. Williams believed that Jamal Adams would feel “bored” due to the way Seattle typically uses their safeties.
“We don’t make as many mistakes as he does…He’s not bringing Gregg Williams with him, that’s for sure.”
–Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was quick to jab back at Williams when asked about the differences in the Jets and Seahawks system, as well as what Adams brings to the table on defense. (New York Post)
FEDEX FIELD HAS ALWAYS SOCIALLY DISTANCED
“My first four years in the league there weren’t many fans in the stadium anyway.”
— Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith isn’t worried about playing in empty stadiums, because he already has. Smith was drafted by the Washington Football Team in 2015. (Zach Kruse, The Packers Wire via Twitter)
THE DIFFERENCE BEING A DAD MAKES
“He’s got some Dad weight going on that I’m sure will be very good for injury prevention.”
— Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce has noticed that his quarterback, Carson Wentz, has picked up some invaluable dad strength following the birth of his child. (Zach Berman, The Athletic via Twitter)
THE KIND OF STUFF YOU DREAM ABOUT
“I don’t cry about stuff. I didn’t cry when I won Heisman. I didn’t cry when I won all the other accolades…But when I seen the cover, like, I actually shed tears.”
— Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has seen a string of accolades over the last few years, but none have hit him the way the honor of gracing the cover of Madden 21 has. (B/R Gridiron via Instagram)
CAME OUT THE WOMB AN UNDERDOG
“Never give up!”
— New England Patriots linebacker Don’t’a Hightower turned to the most inspirational thing he could think of during hour 17 of his fiancée’s birth. As the nurse told Morgan Hart to push, Hightower conjured all the energy and motivation he could by thinking back to Super Bowl LI. (Boston Globe [Paywall])
IS KITTLE INCLUDING HIMSELF IN THIS?
“Rumor: #49ers will announce 6-year, $94.8 million contract xtension for [George Kittle] on Friday, per [Grant Cohn]”
— San Francisco 49ers website 49ers Webzone shared a rumor to Twitter on Thursday night, detailing a massive extension for tight end George Kittle.
“Y’all believe everything you read on the internet huh”
— Kittle seemed to take issue with the tweet, claiming that not everything on the internet should be believed. The following day, Kittle and the 49ers came to an agreement on a 5-year $75 million contract extension. The report by 49ers Webzone was off by one year and about $800K in APY value. (George Kittle via Twitter)
BROMANCE STORY, DIRECTED BY NOAH BAUMBACH
“Obviously its a little different. But you gotta move on and you understand this is a business. You wish him well. That’s when you instantly start thinking about yourself…we’ve played a lot of ball together. I love him to death, but the train keeps moving.”
— New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman comes to terms with playing without quarterback Tom Brady after a decade playing together. (Evan Lazar, CLNS Media via Twitter)
SMASHING THE TROPHY CASE
“We’ve got a gauntlet of Heismans that I’m looking forward to wrecking this year.”
— Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward is more than ready to take on a slew of quarterbacks toting one of the highest honors in college football. The AFC North is home to 2017 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, 2018 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, and 2020 Heisman winner Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Adam Lefkoe, Bleacher Report via Twitter)
8TH FASTEST 40 TIME IN COMBINE HISTORY…ON AN OFF DAY
“I mean I ran a 4.27 but honestly I ain’t even too happy about it…I’m talking to my trainer while we’re warming up and I’m like , ‘Bruh my hips won’t open up, I’m stiff, I ain’t feeling it.’ Technique was all off, start was all off, I ain’t even run in a straight line.”
— Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs impressed throughout his college tenure at Alabama with unparalled speed. According to him, however, his 4.27 40-yard dash time at the combine wasn’t close to his ideal 40 time. When pressed as to whether or not he ran a 4.27 40 “on an off day,” Ruggs responded with “In the most humble way I can, yeah.” (Whistle Sports)
TOUGH TO DO SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T DONE IN 20 YEARS
“It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook — I mean I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough,’ like all of the different terminologies. You’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically, still. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best, but mentally I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady may be 43 years old, but he’s being forced to go back to football school and learn a new playbook for the first time since his rookie season. (ESPN)
THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL MEDIA
A CALM, MEAURED RESPONSE
–Someone had the bright idea to send Adam “Pacman” Jones a box full of Steelers safety Joe Haden jerseys. What did he do with the lovely gift? Why burn them, of course.
DO YOU EVER THINK THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN BEING REALLY, REALLY, REALLY RIDICULOUSLY GOOD-LOOKING?
B̶l̶u̶e̶ Teal Steel pic.twitter.com/AL5VN40m6N
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 5, 2020
–Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew is servin’ up looks at media day. I haven’t seen a face like this since Le Tigra.
FINALLY, SOME NORMALCY
–With the return of HBO’s Hard Knocks, it finally feels like there’s some semblance of normalcy to this NFL season. Sure, the Rams staff is covered up in face shields and masks, but you can see it in their eyes: football is back.