O-Zone: Riding the twister

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jess from Carbon

Zone, you missed the point "Greg from Section 122" was trying to make. He didn't "... hint that a player opting out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 reasons may be doing something untoward – or taking some sort of easy way out to make money for doing nothing." He was simply saying that any player who opted out of this season for COVID-19 reasons would get paid without having to do their job. Most fans understand NFL players are unique. I don't begrudge them their salaries; top actors/actresses make $20-to-$25 million per movie and make two-to-three movies per year, but you don't hear people complaining about it. But the average salary in the US is around $50,000 per year. If a player opts out for COVID reasons they will be paid $150,000-$350,000 and not play a down. That's three-to-seven-years' salary for the average American who would have to work the entire year to earn it. So, it shouldn't be hard to understand someone's point when they talk about NFL players getting paid to not do their job. They absolutely should have the choice to opt out. But the choice should be: one, play and get paid; or two, don't play and don't get paid. That's pretty much the choice everyone else has.

I understood the point you were trying to make; people would be amazed at my ability to understand the written word. It's almost as sometimes if I read words and … understand them – like witchcraft, almost. As far as the point that players should face the same choice as everyone else … "should" means little in this discussion. The NFL and NFL Players Association collectively bargained the opt-out rules, which again speaks to the point I made in the answer we're discussing. The choice "everyone else has" doesn't apply to NFL players because the careers – and the circumstances under which players play those careers – aren't the same. Remember, too: the $150,000 COVID-19 pay for players voluntarily opting out is an advance on the 2021 salary rather than a payment for not working. The player eventually will earn the money. The $350,000 stipend for players opting out because they are deemed high risk indeed is a stipend rather than an advance against the next year's contract. Should it be different? Should players receive nothing if they opt out – for whatever reasons? Some people feel that way, but that's not how the NFL works.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

If there's no college football this year, then how are teams going to evaluate who they will draft in 2021? Use 2019 tape and bring people in for workouts? I suppose it wouldn't be difficult to find a stadium where the NFL could invite college players and have workouts with scouts present like the NFL Scouting Combine, but I imagine it won't be easy to evaluate players without 2020 tape.

It wouldn't be easy for NFL people to evaluate college players if there is no season – and the information teams would have on many players certainly would feel incomplete compared to past drafts. But teams could still scout and get a good read on players – and they would do so pretty much in the manner you suggest. Teams already have started working on the 2020 NFL Draft; many area scouts and "lower-level" personnel people begin working on the next year's draft in the weeks and months leading to the current one. Teams then would package that work with whatever information they would gather from the pre-draft process. I think there's a good chance that process would include the NFL Scouting Combine – or at least a scaled-down, socially-distanced version. Socially distancing the combine wouldn't be easy, but it would be doable – and there would be a lot of urgency for it to happen if there is no 2020 college season.

Chris from Mandarin

Earlier in the offseason, the first two or three times that fans brought up the possibility of bringing back defensive tackle Marcel Dareus, you gave an answer that would make us think it is a possibility. For the last month, you have gone totally the other way. Nothing really has changed, so what changed in your mind?

The situation – and my understanding of the situation.

Mike from Port Charlotte, FL

I'm really excited about two of our rookie draft picks in the later rounds: cornerbacks Josiah Scott and Chris Claybrooks. I watched some tape on them. Scott seems to be in the right place and the right time for turnovers and Claybrooks is fast! I see these guys as potential game-changers.

The Jaguars are optimistic about Scott. He has the feel of a player who can be a good special teams player as a rookie, then develop into a good nickel corner moving forward. Claybrooks absolutely is fast and has a chance to be the kickoff returner this season.

Rob from Jacksonville

Have we really devolved to the point of hoping players get COVID now so they don't get it during the season? Fans have taken fanning to a whole new level.

Fear not. There will be another level. There's always another level.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John: Cold question. Assuming someone has a level of immunity having had COVID-19, seems like the teams that have more starters during preseason who test positive, quarantine, and are back before the regular season starts, have a chance to avoid disruption moving forward? Terrible situation, but maybe reality?

If COVID-19 indeed is more difficult to catch once a person has had it or been exposed to it, then yes … purely from a cold, objective standpoint that would be reality.

Jason from St. Petersburg, FL

A suggestion for Greg if he believes players opting out due to COVID-19 is unfair. He should just get recruited by an NFL team and then opt out. Now he can enjoy the same "luxury."

True.

David from Orlando, FL

Zone - Wasn't there a time when teams won the opening coin toss, it was the norm to receive the ball first? When did it become the norm to defer receiving the ball in the second half?

Yes, there was a time when most teams chose to receive the opening kickoff. It changed in the last decade or so as coaches began to like the idea of receiving in the second half. The theory behind that was that teams could "steal" a possession by scoring late in the first half and having the ball to start the second half.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

I grew up in rural Colorado and Wyoming, with some serious farmers, ranchers, Cowboys and mountain men. Their opinion on this issue would be "It's a pretty darn stupid thing to do, but they have every right to do it." NFL fans pay directly, or indirectly, player's salaries. They have every right to choose what to do.

Of course they do.

Don from Marshall, NC

There is no scenario I can see that will allow football this season. I want to believe but this virus has hooks in it. Half of the players are considered high risk because of their weight. The question I am asking myself now is how important is football if it's going to cost someone their life. Stay safe my brother and we got your back! Go Jaguars

Stay safe.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

This must be a "Washington Football Team" reunion. My wife and I were at the Super Bowl for the Riggins run. We were also Jags season-ticket holders for the first 16 years. Hopefully the Jags will have a Super Bowl experience at some point.

There was a time in my life when I would have given just about anything to have been with you at that Super Bowl … well, maybe not with you, but somewhere among the 103,667 in the Rose Bowl that day. That time has long since passed, but the memory of Washington running back John Riggins running down the sidelines, hugging my father and running outside to honk the horn of my car after the final gun … yeah, here's hoping Jaguars fans experience that at some point.

David from Ada, OK

When I was young, I used to have to get up two hours early so that I could walk to school just so I could hitch a ride on a tornado. And I'd like to complain about all the huge unfair salaries of every pro football player. If I could go back in time I'd have my mother give me super soldier serum so I could be one of those people with rare athletic gifts so I wouldn't have to work so hard like I do in my cozy desk job. Crap! My boss will only allow us to use Staples brand pens!!! And the hand towels in the restroom are brown and scratchy! And there are no Texas Cinnamon rolls in the vending machine!

We all need football in the fall.

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