JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …
John from Jacksonville
If I were an NFL player, instead of opting out, I would tell my family that I need to be away on a long business trip. I need to quarantine myself in a hotel or apartment for about five months. It might be less if a vaccine is ready. It might be longer if we make the playoffs. We can videoconference nightly. I’ll miss you greatly, but I need to do this to provide a more stable future for my family. The military leave for months of deployment to protect our great country, so why can’t I to entertain our great city? You can even watch me on live TV each week. I worked too long and hard to sit out for a season. Stay healthy and safe. I’ll send you anything you need while I’m away.
I have received multiple emails about this, and there are indeed observers suggesting the NFL operate in this sort of bubble in 2020. And “bubbles” have proved very effective in recent weeks for the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer in this Year of COVID-19. But circumstances for the NFL are different than for the NBA and MLS. Those two sports are trying to finish seasons and hold postseasons; the NFL is dealing with roster and staff sizes that dwarf all other sports. The NFL also is trying to hold an entire season that lasts at least five months – longer for teams that make the postseason. Would you indeed isolate away from family for five months? I don’t doubt you would. I might do it, too. And I believe there are some NFL players and coaches who would, too. But not all players would and it’s realistically difficult – not impossible, but difficult – to expect three thousand-plus players, coaches and staff to do this.
Mike from Atlanta, GA
Can you finally tell us if that Morten Andersen chip-shot miss was intentional or not? A lot of people thought that was a gift. He was such a good kicker and that was a gimme. Tell us, John, lay it on us.
I think you’re being sarcastic, Mike. I hope so, anyway. Andersen, whose missed 30-yard field goal late in the 1996 season finale indeed gave the Jaguars a victory over the Atlanta Falcons and sent the Jaguars to the playoffs, was a Hall of Fame kicker. And it absolutely was shocking that he missed from that range. But he didn’t miss on purpose. NFL players don’t miss on purpose and they don’t try to lose. He slipped. And not many people who understand the NFL truly thought it was a “gift.”
Bradley from Sparks, NV
Let’s say Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone resigned at the end of last season. Which current NFL coaches would you trade Ngakoue for?
There are a bunch of good head coaches out there, if that’s what you’re asking. Andy Reid of Kansas City. Pete Carroll of Seattle. Bill Belichick of New England. Frank Reich of Indianapolis. Mike Zimmer of Minnesota. Bruce Arians of Tampa Bay. Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh. There are more, but those are ones that come to mind.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL
So, all these people with opinions on players opting out and the “need” for football this year have to hear this: Football is entertainment – plain and simple. Football players (and their counterparts in the NBA, MLB, NHL etc.) are not essential workers. They are not firemen, paramedics, policemen, doctors or nurses. They aren’t grocery store employees, waste removal workers, delivery personnel – or anything remotely resembling an essential worker. They entertain us. Period. That’s it. Life will go on if we don’t have football – theirs (or a loved one) may not if they play, and it’s not up to me or anyone else to decide that they should “take one for the team” and play this season. There is still enough content on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+ to last until we have a vaccine or effective treatment – it’s been five months and I’m still not to the bottom of Netflix yet! Stay safe, wash your hands and stop touching your face!
You go, girl.
Big on Blake from Philly
Bathrobe? Nightshirt? Pajama Bottoms? Boxer Shorts? You really got me with those ones, Jean Shorts Never Nude Maurice.
You go, too.
Matt from Fort Worth, TX
Why is this even a thing? Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell can’t pronounce Kay-Luh-Von or Yaw-neek correctly? The GM should be able to correctly pronounce the first names of his star pass rushers. Why is this difficult for him? Gene Frenette mispronounced K’Lavon as Kuh-lay-von Friday in the presser with wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. I feel like it’s just normal human decency to pronounce someone’s first name correctly. If you’re not sure, just ask and practice – especially when the player is as high profile as No. 45 and No. 91 for the Jags. Am I the only one frustrated by this?
Maybe you’re flying solo on this one. Perhaps not. But I can assure you this: If longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette deigns to speak your name, you consider yourself honored. How he chooses to pronounce it is secondary.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville
In response to your discussion about NFL players being “heroes.” While some of them I admire, most I don’t consider them heroes. At least not for on the field activities. Josh Lambo and his work with pet adoption, JJ Watt and his hurricane relief effort, those things are heroic IMHO. As for the difference in importance, you stated it is a matter of opinion and perception. Respectfully, sorry no, I disagree in this case. My wife is a nurse and caregiver in this weird, dangerous time. She is by far more essential, important and needed than NFL players. This is not intending any disrespect: to imply this is some sort of matter of opinion is just silly. There are clear priorities of who/what is needed during times of crisis and urgency such as this time. Firemen, police, doctors, grocery store clerks, retailers, teachers, nurses and a whole host of things I am sure I am forgetting are more important right now than NFL players. Personally, I don’t care they got to “opt out” due to CBA ruling. Good for them, but please let’s not confuse the issue of who/what is deemed important or essential in this time. The NFL is a distraction, and as a season ticket holder, a welcome one. But I don’t kid myself of being realistic about what it is and what priority the NFL players hold. That’s it, hope that didn’t come off snarky or adversarial. God bless, stay safe, and go Jaguars. #WHYNOTUS
Your wife indeed is important, as are all the essential people you listed. I didn’t imply otherwise, nor did I state that this was a matter of perception. I simply wrote in an O-Zone answer that heroes are in the eye of the beholder. That doesn’t remotely imply that I consider NFL players heroes; I do not. They are men who play a boy’s game and are gifted enough to make a lot of money doing it. And trust me: I’ve never confused the issue of what’s important or essential during this time. I frankly don’t get the idea that many – if any – NFL players consider themselves heroes. None I have been around think of themselves this way. They’re currently just human beings trying to figure out how to get through this pandemic.
Madison from Jacksonville
Hi John, who is Bathrobe Means? I feel so silly googling the name and expecting a player picture. Did I miss an O-Zone?
He’s Nightcap Means’ cousin. Skintight T-Shirt Frenette covered him in college.
Tom from Charlottesville, VA
Can players that have opted out be included in meetings? Can they help as “coaches” for position meetings?
Mike from Atlanta, GA
With the opt-outs trickling in throughout the league, is there a possibility that the NFL does something like what the NBA and MLS are doing? Or maybe if things get bad enough they shorten the season?
The opt-outs won’t be trickling in in the NFL anymore. The deadline for opting out was Thursday at 4 p.m. And while I expect some players to move on and off teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists, I don’t expect the NFL to move to a total bubble concept – at least not at the start of the season. But I wouldn’t rule out the NFL shortening the season or having alternative plans in the vent of outbreaks on a team – or on multiple teams. The season ahead likely will be full of unknowns. Adaptability will be key to its completion.
Crash from the Westside
A growler of beer says the Cats go 8-8 and clinch the seventh and final playoff spot.
I like growlers of beer.