Vanderbilt kicker Oren Milstein won’t play for the team in 2020.
The Columbia graduate transfer tweeted Monday night that he would be opting out of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Milstein said that he was not willing to sacrifice his health to play football and also said that he had concerns about the ethics of playing football in a pandemic.
Football really does mean so much to me, but at the end of the day COVID-19 is real and can affect anyone. Much of my reasoning stems from the uncertain long term effects of contracting this virus and the increasing examples of athletes and young people being severely affected.— Oren Milstein (@orenmilstein) August 3, 2020
I am not willing to sacrifice my health, the health of my teammates, or the health of everyone involved in facilitating college football this fall in order to play football this season.— Oren Milstein (@orenmilstein) August 3, 2020
The SEC and Vanderbilt are attempting to implement safe playing conditions for the players, but there are only so many precautions one can take while playing the game of football in various cities on a large team in a college environment during a global pandemic.— Oren Milstein (@orenmilstein) August 3, 2020
Furthermore, many of our questions and concerns about our health, the ethics of playing college football during a pandemic, and the long term effects of COVID-19 have been left unanswered as the country continues to suffer and football activities continue to ramp up.— Oren Milstein (@orenmilstein) August 3, 2020
Milstein transferred to Vanderbilt this spring after graduating from Columbia and was expected to compete to be the team’s starting kicker. He was an All-Ivy League selection in 2016.
His announcement came hours before star Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced that he was opting out of the 2020 season. Bateman, a likely first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, said Tuesday morning that he wouldn’t be playing because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Late last week, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley said he was opting out of the season. Farley is also expected to be drafted on the first two days of the NFL draft.
Players detail coronavirus experiences
The decisions by players to opt out of the season come as players who have tested positive for COVID-19 are sharing their experiences with the virus. Tuesday morning, LSU linebacker Travez Moore said he had lost nearly 30 pounds along with his senses of taste and smell.
Bro coronavirus is real 👎🏿.. i was 256 now I’m 229 because i lost my appetite and it’s hard to eat plus you can barley breath. You can’t smell food you can’t taste food or taste any liquids.. stay y’all ass in the house https://t.co/kYERGuW38M— vezz (@moore_travez) August 4, 2020
Arizona wide receiver Jaden Mitchell said that the virus was “no joke.” Mitchell said that he had the virus for three weeks and had lost 14 pounds.
Debbie Rucker, the mother of Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney said on Facebook that her son had to go to the emergency room because of breathing issues from COVID-19 and could be “dealing with possible heart issues.”
I’m in this parent group of college football players on Facebook. I’m not prepared to deal with this mother’s situation regarding her son on any level whatsoever... pic.twitter.com/pLQPR6ajJz— ChicagoDuke (@spickett66) August 2, 2020
Pac-12 players have joined together to threaten to sit out the 2020 season if their concerns for their safety amid the pandemic are not met by the conference. Monday night, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he welcomed a dialogue with the players and that the conference was “eager” to hear about their concerns. The Pac-12 was the second conference to announce that it would have its teams play a conference-only schedule in the fall because of the pandemic.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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