Amid the coronavirus pandemic, NFL players and staff were tasked with a tough decision as training camp begun. They could either participate in the season and face the risks that come with it, or opt out if they felt unsafe.
For Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Don 'Wink" Martindale, the choice was easy. Based on what they've seen from the team and league in terms of safety, they never considered not coaching in 2020.
"It never really entered my mind," Roman said during a Zoom call with media on Wednesday.
"Well, I think with the protocol that’s been established by the league it's obviously a safe environment its football and I never thought about opting out," Martindale said. "I don’t think they would have ever brought us back if they thought it was a high rate of danger with the pandemic. I felt safe coming back and taking all precautions and protocol, wear our masks and do all of the six feet apart and social distancing."
While Martindale applauds the league's efforts to control the virus, which now includes daily testing through September 5, the Ravens have specifically made an effort to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved.
From Lamar Jackson opting to become a "Bubble Boy" to Mark Ingram stating that a positive mindset and cautious behavior will benefit the league, it's clear the team has bought into the idea that a season will only happen if everyone is committed to following the protocols to a tee.
Additionally, Roman says he's been blown away with the technology brought in and the extra precautions Baltimore has taken in order to lessen the risk of infection. That includes a device that alerts someone when they are within six feet of another individual.
The pre-planning prior to arrivals and constant improvements were the reasons the offensive coordinator never had doubts about the campaign.
"Resources and planning that this organization put into the facility procedures, it’s a thought that never crossed my mind," Roman said. "Frankly the unbelievable prep forethought, resources, space, that everybody was able to come up with some great solutions, it never entered my mind. If I came and saw something different you never know but impressive what our organization has done in this unique situation for all of us."
With training camp just beginning and contact practices set to get underway soon, there are still numerous obstacles the league will have to face. But through the initial phase, the Ravens have shown that health and safety are their biggest concerns, and that approach won't change. That mentality made opting in the only reasonable choice for Martindale, Roman and others.
"We’re all in this together. Taking care of each other and each other’s families. Show your discipline and mental toughness, wear your masks in meetings," Martindale said. "I've never thought about opting out."
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