The world in general has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has naturally extended itself into the world of sports. Most of the major leagues have been on hiatus since the outbreak originally hit back in March. Some sparing returns with varying degrees of success having been launched since.
More individualized sports such as golf have been able to return fairly seamlessly, whereas others such as basketball and baseball have had trouble getting off the ground. In fact, baseball seemed to be dealt a major blow on Monday as an outbreak within the Miami Marlins clubhouse may threaten greater implications on the MLB season.
As the NFL attempts to make a comeback of its own, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to how well things are going to go in light of the rocky path the country has been on through all of this, and how difficult putting everything together has been for the other leagues. One NFL player already seems to be indicating a lack of confidence in their ability to keep their players safe, and that’s Ravens’ wide receiver/kick returner De’Anthony Thomas:
#Ravens WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas has opted out of the 2020 season.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) July 27, 2020
There have been plenty of discussions had around how keeping players safe and clear of the spread of the virus, and as such, speculation about this exact thing happening. While Thomas is a more ancillary player in the grand scheme of things, he may in fact be one of the first dominoes to fall.
As far as the Ravens go, it’s certainly a blow to the special teams unit as Thomas has had strong stretches at the returner spot. Some other options to keep an eye on for that spot could be rookies Devin Duvernay, James Proche, or a name we haven’t heard yet as sometimes works out with special teams spots.
While this is disappointing news, it’s well within Thomas’ rights to protect himself in any way he sees fit. Hopefully we’ll look back on this and other potential opt-outs as an unnecessary move, but only time (and the veracity or the NFL’s containment measures) will tell if that’s true.