- Jul 7, 2016
For the players who sat out in 2020 to protect themselves (and others) from COVID-19, the choice not to play another game before the draft was a complicated and fraught one.
So far Gregory Rousseau has interviewed with more than 20 NFL teams in the lead-up to this month’s draft, and so far each video call has followed a similar line of inquiry. “Just different voices every time,” the former Miami Hurricanes defensive end says, “but it’s the same stuff.”
First the team officials on his Zoom screen start with small talk, lobbing softballs about his football background. “Like, ‘Walk me through your high school, walk me through getting recruited to Miami,’ ” says Rousseau, 21, a Coconut Creek, Fla., native whose 15.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2019 ranked second nationwide. Then the officials scooch closer to their cameras and someone segues with an ominous Soo . . . Rousseau knows what is next. “They always ask why I opted out,” he says. “It’s like clockwork.”...
...A similar attitude flooded Rousseau’s DMs after he announced that he would forgo his junior year with the Hurricanes. Members of the program had cheered him on—“My teammates all told me, “Go train hard, chase your dreams, make sure you get paid!”—but some diehards were less sympathetic. “Obviously fans were mad,” Rousseau says. “I got a lot of hate on Twitter, telling me I’m a quitter, a sellout, that stuff.” The barbs stung at first, but Rousseau got used to them. “I saw it from their point of view, like ‘Damn, this dude opted out; he quit on the team,’ ” Rousseau says. “They’re feeling hurt by that. I understand it. It’s not personal.”