Sun, 09 Aug 2020

Bucs OL Smith questions risk of playing amid pandemic

Field Level Media
11 Jul 2020, 05:40 GMT+10

The man expected to protect Tom Brady's blind side said he doesn't feel safe playing football right now.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith wrote Friday on Instagram that "risking my health, as well as my family's health, does not seem like a risk worth taking" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith, 27, is expecting the birth of his first child in three weeks.

"I can't help but think about how will I be able to go to work and take proper precautions around 80 people everyday and then go home to be with my newborn daughter," he wrote. "How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferal of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? How can I make sure that I don't bring COVID-19 back to my household?"

A second-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith started 79 of a possible 80 games through his first five NFL seasons.

NFL players are scheduled to report to training camps starting July 28. The state of Florida has seen a surge of new cases in recent weeks, with more than 244,000 positive cases and 4,100 deaths as of Friday morning.

Smith also responded to reports that the NFL has proposed putting 35 percent of player salaries into an escrow account to help manage costs during the 2020 season.

"Now to hear that 35% of my paycheck may be withheld while we are out sacrificing our health and wellness for the joy and entertainment of everyone else who will be safe at home in front of their TVs? Something isn't right here," he wrote. "That should at LEAST warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut. I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on. I am a man, a son, brother, soon to be father, and I deserve to be safe at work."

Smith stopped short of saying he would refuse to play. The NFL and NFLPA reportedly are negotiating an opt-out option for players.

The Buccaneers are scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 13 at their NFC South rival New Orleans Saints.

--Field Level Media

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