In a virtual press conference with Pittsburgh media on Thursday morning, head coach Mike Tomlin discussed off the field issues when it comes to the 2020 season. With the players constantly being tested for COVID-19, and everyone working together to limit exposure, Tomlin discussed how each player‘s actions in their every-day life will ultimately affect the entire team.
Mike Tomlin on the messaging to his #Steelers re avoiding COVID exposure: "You guys know I like catchphrases. You're talking about conduct that is detrimental. If you're not exercising caution... that conduct is detrimental." ... "Its one fail, all fail in this environment."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) July 30, 2020
Coach Tomlin is taking the full-team approach when it comes to minimizing exposure throughout training camp and the regular season. If only one player makes a questionable decision in regards to the global pandemic, it could affect the teams preparation, ability to get on the field, and ultimately wins and losses.
Being able to trust all players and team personnel within the Steelers organization will be key to handling the 2020 season. If players who are more at risk—such as James Conner as a cancer survivor and Cameron Heyward who has asthma—cannot feel they will be protected with the Steelers as well as they would in every day life if not better, those players could be better suited to opt out of the 2020 season. At this time, both players are reportedly playing in 2020.
If Conner, Heyward, or any other Steelers players feel the need to opt out of the 2020 season, Coach Tomlin specifically addressed this issue and how it will affect this coming season.
Mike Tomlin on opt-outs: "I haven't spent a lot of time trying to anticipate potential opt outs ... we'll deal with them if and when they arise."— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 30, 2020
Says he's respectful of the individual decisions.
The decision for what is best for the safety of each player and their family really does come down to the individual. But with Coach Tomlin’s strong words about each player making decisions which do not only affect them but their teammates and their families, it is doing what he can at this time to create a culture in which everyone needs to get on board when it comes to safety.
So far there have been no Steelers players opt out of the 2020 season. With the dealine to opt out still up for debates (reports range from August 1 to a timeframe based on the ratification of the new agreement for the 2020 season), players could be “testing the waters” to make sure all team personnel are working as safely as possible. Hopefully Coach Tomlin’s new catch phrase will drive the point home and get the job done.
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