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Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was one of several NFL players to speak out on Sunday over his concerns regarding the NFL’s plan, or lack thereof, to start the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While he’s due to report to training camp next week, Lawrence said he may not show up.
Lawrence’s wife is pregnant and due in October, and he wants to put his family first.
“This is absolutely serious,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Don’t get me wrong. I want to play football so bad. I have been wanting to play ever since they shut down everything. But this is not like any other sport. This is a full-contact sport. We are sitting here once inch off the football. That means the offensive tackle is going to be right there breathing right in my face the whole time.
“I have to go home and lay by my wife and kids right after that point. It’s no way possible any man should sit here and jeopardize the health of his family and his household over a game.”
Training camps are set to start opening this week, however plenty of prominent players in the league — including Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt, Malcolm Jenkins and more — slammed the NFL for seemingly not having a true safety plan in place. Among their biggest concerns are questions over how often players will be tested for the coronavirus, what happens if a player tests positive, a training camp acclimation period and a “strong and fair opt-out clause for those at higher risk or those with family members at higher risk.”
Several players called the league out for ignoring advice from its own medical experts, too.
Lawrence recorded 45 tackles and recovered two fumbles for the Cowboys last season, his sixth in the league. The 28-year-old is in the second year of his five-year, $105 million deal, which included a $25 million signing bonus.
If he doesn’t report to camp on time, Lawrence may have to repay some of that signing bonus.
"It's those type of thing that make you think, ‘Man, are we some pawns? Is my life just a game?’” Lawrence said, via ESPN. “I know I ain't got forever to play, but at the end of the day, come on, you're just going to toss me around because you've got dollar signs in your face?”
There were more than 3.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Sunday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 140,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set a new single-day record on Thursday, recording more than 75,000 new cases alone, and has averaged more than 66,000 new cases a day over the past week.
Cases were spiking in Texas, too. The state had more than 333,000 cases — the fourth-most in the country behind New York, California and Florida — and set a massive new daily record on Thursday with more than 15,000 new cases alone.
Lawrence declined to commit specifically as to whether he would report on time or not. The biggest thing he’s worried about now, he said Sunday, is simply being able to be there for his new daughter.
He missed the birth of his son in 2014 while at rookie minicamp, and doesn’t want that to happen a second time.
“But my No. 1 concern is will I be able to see my family and be there for my daughter's birth?” Lawrence said, via ESPN. “If I can't be, we're really going to have to take some major difficult considerations about this season, because I'm not missing the birth of another child.”
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