Football's Corona Comeback

Football's Corona Comeback

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There are so many stories and efforts in America’s coronavirus comeback fight. This week, all 50 states lifted at least some restrictions. In July, we could see the return of baseball, basketball, hockey and football.

Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker was part of the ALL IN Challenge, offering a prize package highlighting events surrounding Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls. The Hall and its Gold Jackets have assisted with Project Isaiah, raising money to feed thousands through a partnership with Gate Gourmet.

Starting Memorial Day, HOF Productions will release across all social media platforms its exclusive video, “Football’s Corona Comeback.”

Over the rest of the week, the Hall will unveil a series of videos showing the stories of NFL Legends and college football players joining the fight.

Tuesday: Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif spent the past seven years getting his medical degree while playing professional football. He reached the pinnacle of football this year as a member of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Unbeknownst to him at the time he was on his way to a medical mountain top, he also was transitioning from the front line of the Chiefs to the front line battling the pandemic. After the Super Bowl, he and his girlfriend vacationed in France as the pandemic closed his native Canada. They were quarantined for two weeks when the returned, and he petitioned his hospital to serve. Several weeks later, he joined a long-term facility one hour from his hometown of Montreal with his girlfriend, and they currently serve as orderlies and nurses, crushing pills for safe consumption and caring to the needs of the elderly.


Wednesday: Incoming California Bears sophomore Zach Angelillo had only four practices in his switch from linebacker to fullback when COVID-19 shut down football. Zach trained diligently but wanted to do more. He saw it as his role in the community to contribute even in the smallest of ways, a mindset Angelillo developed long ago from playing football. As a student at San Joaquin Memorial Hight School, Angelillo organized a fundraiser to help out the family of a longtime assistant coach who had died suddenly. Against the advice of many who feared he would catch the virus, he now has combined daily workouts with daily food pickups and delivery for food banks.


Thursday: New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton thought it would be a good idea to get out in the early stages of the pandemic, so he attended horse races at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., in late March. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, he became the first current NFL player or staffer to state publicly that he had contracted coronavirus. 

Saints WR Austin Carr also contracted along with his wife, Erica, who was pregnant. He told ESPN, “I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I’m lucky. We all need to do our part. it’s important for every one of us to do our part.” The Carrs were blessed with the birth of their first son, Clive, on April 4. Clive tested negative. “All in all, we feel thankful for the health care workers who were looking out for us. We can’t thank them enough,” Carr said.


Friday: Tony Boselli has had many blessed moments in his life: an All-American tackle at USC, overall No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a brief but outstanding NFL career and a four-time finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s a man of strong faith and father of five, including a son playing football at Florida State. He, like so many others, felt he was ready to face the COVID-19 pandemic. He found out he underestimated the opponent. When he contracted the virus and went to the Mayo Clinic, the microscopic organism known as “novel” coronavirus literally was eating him alive. “I never played a football game where I felt overmatched as I did against this thing,” he said. He faith was tested, he prayed for God to give him another time to die. If not for his new team, he would not have won to have another chance to on the road to Canton. “They are the true superstars,” he said of the doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants and laboratory technicians. One month later, he was back at home with this message: “Don’t take this lightly. This is no joke. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side.”


Saturday: NFL Legend Brandon Noble almost lost his liver following a severe bout of mononucleosis and then came close to dying with the second of two MRSA infections during his time in the NFL. He then became a national spokesperson for MRSA. He spent six rugged seasons in the league, suffering multiple injuries that forced him to retire. He then coached at Coastal Carolina and Temple before finally retiring back in Mount Holly, N.C. Word got out that a local restaurant needed volunteers to serve meals to the health caregivers, and given how they had helped him and his wife, a breast cancer survivor, he now is delivering more than tackles every day.


Sunday: NFL Legend Myron Rolle played three seasons as a safety and today is seeing COVID-19 patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room as a third-year neurosurgery resident. He said football taught him to be a team player – one of the lessons that helped prepare him for this crisis. “The biggest crossover trait that’s helped me the most has been mitigating pressure. You have to remain calm, remain cool, go back to your fundamentals,” Rolle said. “It was the same way when it was fourth down and we were backed up. The offense is driving, and you have to make a big stop. It’s a lot of pressure, and you have to fundamentally go back to your basics.”


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