The upcoming 2020 NFL season has a lot of question marks attached to it. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made everyone a little more cautious about their health and the health of their families.
One team, in particular, the New England Patriots, now have seven players that have opted not to play in 2020 after wide receiver Marqise Lee became the latest to do so on Friday. Lee just became a first-time father in January and wants to protect his newborn daughter, Alia.
“This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that’s going out there, it just wasn’t worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns,” Lee told ESPN.com.
“We knew New England, honestly, had a great system in place. But I told Coach [Bill Belichick], at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be doing him justice going out there because I wouldn’t be able to give him my all knowing my family was back at the house worrying about their situation.”
In addition to Lee, the list of Patriots players to opt-out includes LB Dont’a Hightower, S Patrick Chung, RT Marcus Cannon, SPT Brandon Bolden, FB Danny Vitale, and OL Najee Toran.
The former second-round pick out of USC just signed a one-year deal back in April to come to New England. Lee was initially drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 and signed a big four-year deal worth $34 in March 2018. Unfortunately, he had an ACL, MCL and PCL injuries to his left knee during the preseason.
“People who know my background and where I came from, and things like that, I didn’t really have my pops in my life. I never really had a real father figure besides coaches as I got older,” Lee said. “This is my opportunity to be there for my daughter. I was hoping she could be there watching this season, but clearly she wasn’t going to be able to do that. I felt like it was important to just spend this year with her and get back to it next year. Football is going to be there at the end of the day.”
Lee did say that he plans to play in the 2021 season. All of his family, even extended members, just takes more importance right now.
“There are a lot of other implications that deal with this issue too,” he said. “Some of my [extended] family members are sick and things like that. At the end of the day, we weren’t trying to close off family members for the year. We’re just trying to find the safest way for the family, and this is it.”
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Patriots are still listed as +115 favorites to win the AFC East. Now might be the time to take the Buffalo Bills seriously as the winners of this division.