If Vinny Curry decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, absolutely no one would have blamed him.
As the league prepares to hold a season during a pandemic, Curry unfortunately knows better than most about the dangers of COVID-19. He helplessly watched as the virus took one of his closest family members earlier this year.
Dr. Gerald Glisson died from the coronavirus on May 3. He was 46.
And Curry was left grieving for his half brother, friend and idol.
Football? Football was the last thing on his mind.
“The passing of my brother has been really, really hard on me,” Curry said Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters. “I just thought I would take my time with it. I didn’t even think about the game honestly. But I started to get the itch. So that’s what brought me back.”
But in May, June and July, Curry just wasn’t ready to get back to football. The 32-year-old needed to grieve; he needed to be with his family.
On Thursday, Curry got emotional as he talked about his appreciation for his teammates, who constantly checked in on him during the rough time in his life. He also thanked all the teams who showed interest in him for understanding the situation and letting him take his time.
“It’s crazy, man,” Curry said. “It happened so fast. It’s like, ‘wait, what?’ So when that happened, free agency just started and I’m just sitting there stuck like a deer in the headlights.”
Glisson was a principal at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, he was a teacher, an athletic director and a football coach. According to NJ.com, he held two master’s degrees and recently earned his doctorate. It’s clear how much Glisson meant to his family and the community; the field house at Bauerle Field in Paterson is being renamed for him.
A large man, at 6-5, 300, Glisson was weakened by the coronavirus. Curry said his brother couldn’t even walk to the bathroom after contracting it. The virus snuck up, took Glisson and left his family devastated in its wake.
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My Idol. My big brother. The man I looked up to. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Because of you, I got to live my dream of playing college division 1 football. Words can’t describe how thankful I am for you. Because of you, I learned family values and how to never stop believing in yourself. I am lost, I am torn, I feel like my heart has been ripped right out of my chest. G, I pray I was able to make you proud. I hope you know how much you mean to me and how much I love you. Know that Michelle and the girls are safe. I will love and protect them. Until we meet again big bro..... love you @g_gliss 💔
Curry was especially devastated. Even though Glisson was 14 years his senior, they were extremely close. And when Curry began to make his athletic rise, it was Glisson’s legacy he was chasing.
The Eagles drafted Curry back in 2012 and he has spent seven of his eight seasons playing for the team he rooted for as a child. Curry left the Eagles for Tampa Bay after the 2017 season, but lasted just one year and has since said that it never felt right there. He thinks he never should have left.
Philadelphia is Curry’s home and the Eagles are his second family. So at a time when his heart was heavy, of course he returned.
Curry signed a one-year contract to rejoin the Eagles on Aug. 10, just over three months after his half brother died.
While Curry said the dangers of COVID-19 “absolutely” gave him pause about playing in the 2020 season, he heard about how safe NFL facilities were and has been thoroughly impressed since reporting for training camp, calling the NovaCare Complex’s safety precautions “phenomenal.”
This will be Curry’s ninth NFL season and he figures to play a big role as a rotational defensive end just like he did last season. Even though the Eagles seemed to need pass rush depth, they didn’t sign someone else. They knew Curry needed time and they waited to sign him.
“When you’re grieving like that and you talk to somebody every single day and that happens the way it happens, you ain’t thinking about nothing else but the family,” Curry said.
“But then once teams got into training camps, I’m pretty sure you guys have heard about how safe the facility are. My thing was, it was just time to get back out there. I felt like, you know what, I’m gonna go and do it.”
Curry will be thinking of Glisson every step of the way.
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