BY Art Thiel 05:33PM 07/29/2020

Thiel: Wagner has hope; virus has the edge

Bobby Wagner thinks the Seahawks will be sufficiently “smart and disciplined” to have a season in spite of the virus. That’s what some figured for MLB’s Miami Marlins.

Players and coaches are back at Seahawks headquarters in Renton. For how long? / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest file

All NFL teams have officially begun their training camps, although drone cameras above the fields would show little evidence, except for more cars in the lots. For most of the first week, players and coaches are mostly inside, getting tested for COVID-19 and having meetings. The first contact practices aren’t until mid-August, and the exhibition season has been cancelled.

The NFL’s attempt to back away from, tip-toe past and work around the virus has begun. Reminds me of the old Looney Tunes cartoon featuring blowhard Foghorn Leghorn being outsmarted by a young little chicken.

“Nice boy,” grumbles Foghorn, “but he’s got more nerve than a bum tooth.”

Speaking of Looney Tunes, camps opened on the week that the U.S. passed the 150,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths with the prospect for many more, thanks in part to an administration now promoting advice from a doctor who thinks the government is run by reptilians whose scientists are working with alien DNA to promote treatments.

Of course, we SyFy Channel enthusiasts all knew that.

On the periphery of this madness, the NFL, like MLB, is attempting to create a season playing at home stadiums without fans — and without the control provided by a bubble that, by agreement with players, keeps athletes from leaving and/or traveling.

MLB had its first major setback on its opening weekend when 16 Florida Marlins players and two coaches, playing in Philadelphia, tested positive. MLB postponed seven Marlins games as disruption rippled across the 60-game schedule.

As for the Seahawks, they have assembled in Renton with only one known virus casualty, newcomer OL Chance Warmack, 28, the 10th pick in the 2013 draft who was signed as a free agent in March after sitting out 2019 with injuries. He opted out of playing in 2020 because of several people he was close to contracted COVID-19.

If there are other Seahawks who have talked about a voluntary exit, as was the case in New England where six Patriots opted out, LB Bobby Wagner hasn’t heard of it.

“I haven’t spoke to anybody in our team that’s considering opting out,” Wagner said Tuesday on a Zoom conference with area reporters. “I know it’s a thing that a lot of people take serious. It’s a thing that we have not experienced. You have to think about more than just yourself in this situation.”

And you, Bobby?

“I’m not concerned,” he said. “I feel like the Seahawks have done a great job trying to provide a lot of protocols and things of that nature. I think we just take it one day at a time.

“We have to make sure everybody is being smart and disciplined, because we’ll have to be, to get this thing done.”

If any cohort in America is capable of getting things done by being smart and disciplined, it figures to be highly paid professional athletes. Yet the Marlins’ breakout illustrates otherwise. Wagner wasn’t ready to draw an analogy.

“I have no idea how a baseball team works,” he said, “what they do in a dugout, what they do at home. Obviously something wasn’t all right, but the rest of the league is still fine. I believe Florida is one of the places that this thing is spreading . . .

“A lot of it is just hoping that we have that discipline and we have the leadership to help push that message. It’s up to everybody around us to follow those messages.

“I feel more positive that we will have a little bit more discipline.”

Wagner is right about Florida — a single-day mark of 216 deaths was recorded Tuesday, which also saw  more than 6,300 new cases. Then again, the Seahawks season opens Sept. 13 in Atlanta, another hotbed where the governor is suing the mayor because she insists on making masks mandatory.

It’s another example of the fractious politics in America, which needs desperately a clear, unified policy on countering the virus so that national sports leagues can coordinate their own rules.

Wagner’s belief that “we” will have a little more discipline is up for debate. The NFL does have far fewer games to regulate than baseball, but it has far more players and staffers to manage, and it plans to travel a full schedule.

There’s no empirical evidence that 20-something football players are going to be more disciplined than 20-something baseball players. That’s not a knock; it’s a lament about the difficult nature of what we’re asking highly competitive athletes to do for the purposes of our amusement and TV revenue.

Referring to discipline and leadership, Wagner used the word “hope.” The sentiment is shared by many. But hope is no more a tool against the virus than it is for beating Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense.

All the hygiene, masks, mandatory tests and contact tracing don’t work unless all do the jobs assigned. When the Marlins didn’t do the job . . . chaos. When the leaders don’t assign . . . disaster.

The virus has a lot of nerve. As a country, we’re third-and-long.



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  • Alan Harrison

    I don’t remember who said it, but if we’re at 3rd and long — and I believe we are, too — then the adage, “When in doubt, punt” applies. Let it go for this year. Give the players some money to tide things over (yeah, I know, “can of worms” doesn’t even begin to describe that process), and start over in 2021 with no accrued time in contracts. That might not be the best idea, but this is just the deck chair rearrangement going on. (Let’s see… 3rd and long, can of worms, deck chair rearrangement…oh gosh, I think I have the ubermetaphor virus… please call an editor…)

    • James

      Nobody punts on third-and-long. If poor migrants with no health insurance can be paid uber-low wages to risk their lives to feed the US, then there’s no reason strong healthy uberwealthy athletes can’t entertain their bloodthirsty fans.

      And thanks to Art for a mind-numbing boring article of no value.

      • art thiel

        If this was satire, James, it didn’t work. If this was serious, don’t offer trash like nuking states and people.

        • James

          Herman Cain, the Co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, died of COVID today. That’s progress, one less SFB Trump thug. I didn’t serve in the Navy to watch this country be destroyed by shit-for-brains Trumpers.

          • Husky73

            For a few (Art), writing is an art form. For some, writing is a hobby. And for others, writing is a barefoot stroll through broken glass.

          • James

            Art’s drivel: “If any cohort in America is capable of getting things done by being smart and disciplined, it figures to be highly paid professional athletes.”

            Have you ever read a crock o’shit like that? Let’s name a few smart and disciplined individuals:

            Malik McDowell
            Quinton Dunbar
            Earl Thomas
            Michael Bennett
            Jeremy Lane
            Percy Harvin
            Golden Tate
            Tarvaris Jackson
            Trevone Boykin
            Derrick Coleman
            Josh Gordon

            That’s just a sample of Seahawks.

          • art thiel

            I can give you the other 95 percent of people who make my point, but you’re not worth it.

          • James

            And you are worth paying to read, but as Husky73 pointed out a few weeks ago, you have plenty of big-breasted gals in your ads.

          • jafabian

            Let he who is without sin….

          • James

            I am without sin, speak for yourself.

          • jafabian

            1 John 1: 8-10

          • James

            Matthew 7

          • art thiel

            The guy died, James. Feel free to disagree with Cain, but I hope the Navy left you with a little dignity at least.

          • James

            Shit-for-brains republicans who have enabled Trump, who works to destroy this country, who maintain COVID is a hoax in places like Florida and Texas, deserve to die. You might think Trump is some funny incompetent president, but he is an evil SOB working with Russia to destroy the USA. Good luck with your fond memories of those who helped Hitler and Stalin.

    • art thiel

      The ubermetaphor virus is toxic in a way too. And I’ve been a carrier on occasion.

      The sports leagues had to try to re-open; they just couldn’t imagine a virus so insidious and a president so incompetent. But now both are apparent to all. If it gets to fourth and long, let’s just hope the snap doesn’t go over our heads.

      • Alan Harrison

        I just looked it up. “When in doubt, punt.” – John Heisman. I think he had something to do with college football, right?

  • jafabian

    Wagner’s statement illustrates a lack of life experiences on his part. If being concerned about a person’s health and well being and opting out for a lesser salary is selfish in an industry where a player under contract can hold out for even more money I can only shake my head. I challenge anyone to call Nate Solder of the Giants selfish for opting out because of his young son’s cancer treatments. Everyone’s situation is different and there is no selfish response. No one called Steve Largent selfish for crossing the picket line in 1987 so he could maintain his son Kramer’s spina bifada treatments.

    Multiple players around the league have voiced their concerns about the NFL’s lack of preparedness, including our own DangeRuss who rarely makes waves but does have a young family including a newborn. Even if the NFL takes every precaution imaginable it’s not possible to be even reasonably safe right now as the Miami Marlins have shown and the NFL doesn’t seem to be that far right now. Glenn Beck once said “I know it’s crazy, but I actually prefer to prepare for disaster and worst-case scenarios, rather than panic once they do occur.”

    • art thiel

      I see why you took it that way, but I don’t think Wagner meant it the way it read: “You have too think of more than yourself in this situation.”

      Wagner was being supportive of players like Warmack, who was thinking beyond himself in opting to stay home. But it reads as if Wagner said Warmack wasn’t thinking of his teammates, and being selfish.

      I knew what he meant as he spoke, but I should have amended his quote to clear up confusion.

      • jafabian

        Understood. I thought as much having followed BSwags career for so long but reacted. And I know if a teammate was diagnosed with COVID19 he’d be right there to support them. But thanks for clarifying.

  • James
    • art thiel

      That’s the most unheard-of thing I ever heard of.

  • Tman

    The sixth extinction is not a game. The fossil fuel industry, and the military/police industrial complex running on it, are the # 1 cause of global warming and thus the sixth Extinction. Viruses, man-made and natural, thrive in our warming climate. We are 20 years behind the curve outlawing the fossil fuel and military/police industries. They are killing us, sooner than later.
    We are dying for the fossil fuel and Military industries who’s only dream is to die rich. That’s going to happen no matter what. if we outlaw them now we might live beyond 2025. Might.
    Most likely? We have played our last game.

    • art thiel

      Well then. I guess I better get in the Mariners home opener Friday night

      I get your premise, not your conclusion.

      • Tman

        Get it while you can. We have these problems and do nothing about them. America is like the Titanic with exactly the wrong Commander at the helm and crew minding the lifeboats.

        Go Mariners!

  • tor5

    While I’ve been a bit more bullish than you, Art, I must concede that from the beginning your more dire predictions have been pretty accurate. And now when I read how much this plan depends on 20-somethings being “smart and disciplined” a real sense of foreboding sets in. Even old boring guys like me are having a hard time being smart and disciplined. But when I was in my 20s, the idea of sitting home on a Friday night would just about make me explode.

    • art thiel

      The cohort that is having the highest mortality rate in he U.S.right now is 25-49.