SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — During a zoom call, San Francisco star running back Raheem Mostert was asked how seriously he and his teammates were taking the threat of possibly contracting COVID-19.
He reached down and grabbed a small device that was attached to a lanyard draped around his neck.
“This is not a bubble. COVID can come through at any time. We are definitely doing that (taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously),” he said. “That’s why we wear these monitors that blink when we get within 6 feet of each other.”
This is the NFL in the era of COVID-19. There are daily tests. Temperatures are taken. Distance monitors worn. Meeting rooms set up for social distancing.
“If you come into this building and every morning you go through the protocol — waking up at 6:30 a.m.-7 a.m. and meeting start at 9 a.m. and you have to make time to get your COVID testing check in, get your temperature checked — it should be an eye-opener,” he said.
There was a time in the preseason where it appear that Mostert might be among the players to opt to sit out. His wife is pregnant with the couple’s second child and they have a 13-month-old boy. But he recently signed a new contract and the pressures of being his family’s breadwinner were carefully weighed against his fear of contracting COVID-19.
“I’m not going to be opting out, but it was a long and tough discussion with my wife,” he said Wednesday.
“She understands the importance of me being out here and providing for my family,” Mostert continued. “So we have more positive talks than negative…It’s been a blessing that we both are on the same page.”
But he admitted it will be a little lonely this season with him being in Santa Clara and his wife staying at home on Cleveland. With local cases on the rise, Mostert was insistent his wife not come to the Bay Area.
“I told her flat out, I don’t want you guys to even come to Cali,” he said. “I don’t want you to be infected. I don’t want my 1-year-old to be infected as well as the new addition to my family.”
Like Mostert, veteran defensive star Richard Sherman was also adjusting to life in the new NFL.
“I feel relatively safe, just as safe as I do in the rest of society honestly,” Sherman said of the start of training camp. “At the end of the day, once you get through all the hoops you got to jump through and all the protocols and everything – you get on the field and football is as you know it.”
“I think guys have adjusted and adapted in a way they need to. Outside of the testing everyday and the meeting rooms being different – I think has been as normal as it can it be at this time.”
When it came to if he thought his teammates would follow the league’s COVID-19 restrictions, Sherman said the desire to return to the Super Bowl would outway any desire to break the rules.
“At the end of the day, these are grown men, these are pros,” he said. “If they are going to (not follow the COVID-19 restrictions), they will be quarantined, they will get replaced. It will be unfortunate. That is why we have testing everyday. So they can catch it quick.”
“But on a team like ours, we are uniquely constructed to deal with this because we are in Santa Clara,” he continued. “There is not a huge night life. It’s not like we are in Atlanta or Texas or Miami or Las Vegas or LA. Where there are a lot of distractions, a lot of places you can go, a lot of things you can do to get yourself in trouble.”
And there is the lingering memory of the Super Bowl loss.
“I think our team is incredibly focused because of how close we were to winning the Super Bowl last year,” he said. “How that tastes in the mouth is a bit of discipline in itself. That hunger, that angst is discipline in itself.