NESN Diary: Your Favorite Athlete Just Might Catch COVID-19 (And Other Random Thoughts)


Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways, and other cool tidbits we?ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We?re all in this together.

COVID-19 has spared no demographic since the pandemic began, even when it comes to sports.

Professional sports leagues in the United States have been testing players for the novel coronavirus as they attempt to begin or resume their respective seasons. And so far, they’ve reported relatively low positive test rates.

The NBA, for instance, reported just two positive tests out of 322 conducted as players entered the league’s bubble environment at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. last week, according to USA TODAY Sports. 43 NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the league’s return to play plan began June 8, though only 13 tested positive “outside of Phase 2 protocol.”

It’s clear the virus isn’t just going to go away. In fact, it still has a presence in a number of leagues, even as they execute their respective return to play plans.

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook is the latest big name to test positive for the coronavirus. Westbrook is one of the lucky ones, noting he’s currently “feeling well” and looking forward to joining his team in Orlando.

Many other players that have tested positive for the virus — including Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson and tennis star Novak Djokovic — have been asymptomatic. But others haven’t been as lucky.

Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert have experienced a range of symptoms since testing positive for the coronavirus. Gobert, the first professional athlete in the United States to test positive for COVID-19, claims he still hasn’t fully regained his sense of smell since becoming ill — and it could take up to a year for it to do so.

And those are just the players we know about.

Several teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Toronto Blue Jays, have reported numerous positive tests without identifying any player in particular. In fact, many leagues have created policies that prevent teams from releasing any information about players that have tested positive for COVID-19 to protect their privacy.

With all this in mind, there’s a harsh reality fans must accept as sports slowly get back up and running: Your favorite player (or players) just might catch COVID-19.

The good news? There’s a good chance that if a player contracts the coronavirus, they’ll wind up recovering. Most players that have come forward with their diagnosis have reported little to no symptoms, though other COVID-19 patients aren’t nearly as lucky.

The bad news? Scientists have no idea what this virus does to your body in either the short or long term.

For non-athletes, the latter might not come off as a dire concern. But, naturally, athletes’ paychecks rely on their health. And while some might be healthy now, there’s no telling what kinds of mysterious symptoms might pop up in the future, whether it be in a few weeks or a few years, if at all.

There’s simply no telling who will catch COVID-19, or how severe their symptoms might be once they do, either. But with no end in sight to this pandemic, dozens of athletes are likely to continue contracting the virus until play stops for one reason or another. And there’s a decent chance it could be your favorite.

Anyway, here are some tidbits from Monday’s news cycle:

— The Washington Redskins’ name is no more.

The team announced Monday they are retiring the name after a “thorough review” of the issue.

“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” the team said in a statement.

“Dan Snyder and Coach (Ron) Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”

Good choice.

A new name will be revealed in the coming weeks.

— FOX Sports will wait its turn if it means nabbing an All-Pro athlete after he retires.

Greg Olsen is expected to become FOX Sports? No. 2 NFL game analyst following his retirement from the league, according to The New York Post?s Andrew Marchand. The network reportedly even is willing to wait for the tight end should he wish to play beyond the 2020 season.


Of course, Drew Brees is in a similar position with NBC, though he’ll be calling a few Notre Dame Games for “Football Night in America” first.

— The Bruins returned to the ice as a team Monday for the first time since the NHL paused its 2019-20 season four months ago over COVID-19.

Cassidy was happy with how Day 1 of training camp went, and you probably should be, too.

“Really good, to be honest,? Cassidy said. ?I thought our guys had excellent pace. Execution was pretty good for our first practice ? I know a lot of guys have been working, skating. But still, as a group, lot of bodies out there and I thought the willingness to work was excellent. Guys were in a good mood.

?It reminded me a lot of our practices during the year where guys are working hard, taking care of business, but enjoying themselves, having fun and chirping each other. So, kind of where we left off in terms of mood. ? I really liked it.?

(You can check out some of the highlights here.)

— Ben Watson for President?

That’s what Devin and Jason McCourty would like to see.

The twin New England Patriots players lauded Watson’s efforts surrounding social justice in a column published by Sports Illustrated’s “The MMQB” on Monday. In fact, they think he might have what it takes to lead the United States.

?Maybe Ben Watson will be inspired by Kanye West and add his name to the Presidential race,? the twins wrote. ?Ben: You would have our votes. If you just want to see guys play football, 2020 might be the year to take a break from the NFL. Guys (like him) have a burning passion for change, and nothing will get in the way.?

Sounds like a solid write-in candidate to me.

Stat of the Day
Wait… he’s how old?

Tweet of the Day
We’re smiling, too.

Video of the Day
21 years ago today… Wow.

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