As the NFL continues to navigate the current reality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, important conversations are being had about the safety of returning to the field.
Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward — a veteran defender who has asthma — admitted Tuesday while he’s preparing to play, he’ll have to engage in similar conversations with his family members before ultimately deciding whether he’ll participate in 2020.
“Well, you know, as of right now, I haven’t thought that way,” Heyward told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano during an appearance on NFL NOW. “Currently I’ve been working out, just trying to get ready, but I have to have these talks with my family and make sure I take every precaution if I’m gonna go back. We don’t have a vaccine. We’re still dealing with a lot of testing and things have to fall in place. I have to do what’s right for family. I have to make sure I don’t jeopardize them as well as myself.”
The NFLPA earlier this week directed agents to ensure their clients are fully informed of any risks associated with pre-existing conditions and COVID-19, suggesting discussions with their personal doctor and team doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have asthma might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
As the Steelers’ NFLPA player representative, Heyward is fully aware of the latest between the league and NFLPA in preparation for a training camp unlike any in the NFL’s history. With the pandemic situation continuing to evolve, the league and players union have had to frequently adjust with each new bit of information that becomes available.
For now, this fluid situation hasn’t convinced anyone to sit out for 2020, Heyward said. A key part of that fluid situation, though, is communicating any and all pertinent updates.
“Not at the time,” Heyward said when asked if any of his peers had discussed not playing. “Everyone I’ve heard from is just trying to find out more information because they want to go back to football. We’re gonna have to be very smart about this. This isn’t a decision that’s made in one or two days due to not having a vaccine and still dealing with this. We got to make sure that every player and every family feels safe doing this.”
Texans receiver Randall Cobb tweeted Tuesday afternoon about a player-wide call set for Thursday, advising his fellow players “to get on this call to hear the plans so you’re informed and know what to expect going into camp.”
Such relay of information will continue in the days and weeks leading up to the start of camp and beyond.