The week began with Ohio State coach Ryan Day questioning whether players who opted out of the 2020 college season love football. The week is ending with chatter regarding whether one or more NFL teams will hold an opt-out decision against a player.
Per a league source, at least one owner of a team picking in the top 10 is hesitant to draft a player who opted out.
Others may feel the same way. And it will be interesting to track the expected and actual draft position of top prospects.
It shouldn’t be that way. Players not getting paid should not have been expected to assume the risk of catching the virus or spreading it to family members, based on the information available at the time. Moreover, with the NCAA largely if not entirely AWOL when it came to creating and enforcing standards for masks, testing, and/or distancing in facilities and weight rooms, players had to trust that their head coaches would take the situation seriously and implement reasonable safeguards.
Players like former Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley weren’t willing to assume that risk, and good for him. However, Farley recently told Chris Simms that Farley has been asked about his decision to opt out.
“I’ve got it from teams,” Farley said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just my personal situation. . . . I mean, it was something that I couldn’t ignore it, you know, I didn’t have peace about the situation. . . . It didn’t matter if I was the only one. I had to play it cautious. That’s just what I felt in my heart. And I don’t want to look back and regret because to this day I’m, COVID free. My father was COVID free and you know, I, I just gotta thank God.”
Farley’s mother passed away while he was in high school, and Farley didn’t want to give the virus to his father. It’s a reasonable and understandable position, and it’s unfair to question anyone’s love of the game based on the decisions they had to make during a rare set of circumstances.
But some (if not most) NFL teams still want players who won’t think, won’t question, won’t resist. They basically wants robots who will submit to the authority of the team. Still, it seems foolish and unfair to hold such an intensely personal and difficult decision against any player.