Justin Fields is everything you could want out of a quarterback, captain and leader for your team. His on-field performance is elite, but he takes an immense amount of pride in fighting for his teammates. That's evident in what he launched yesterday.
Fields and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence spearheaded the #WeWantToPlay movement last week as rumors began to swirl that the college football season would be canceled. Fields doubled down on his efforts on Sunday, even after his season had already been postponed, by creating a petition that fans could sign. It quickly circulated on social media.
As of Monday afternoon, the petition has more than 240,000 signatures.
Fields appeared as a guest on the Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin Show on ESPN Radio Monday morning.
“I see everything that has been done behind the scenes here and how much they care about it,” Fields said. “I also believe the coaches and all the past players want us to play. They believe in the guidelines Ohio State has set. To me, that is the biggest message.”
Keyshawn Johnson asked Fields about the #WeWantToPlay movement.
“It is a movement by college players,” Fields said. “I talked to (Clemson quarterback) Trevor Lawrence not too long ago about this movement. It was a movement we wanted to get behind. It’s like college football unified and we have a big movement going so we have one voice and one name.
“We wanted to come together and have a voice so people who are making decisions can hear our voice.”
Jay Williams asked Fields about the potential long term impact Coronavirus could have on athletes, particularly with lung or heart issues.
“I think CoVID-19 brings a risk to everybody, but the question I would like to ask you is would we be more safe on campus playing football or off campus doing whatever,” Fields said. “CoVID, people could contract it anywhere. But, for me personally, I feel safer at the facility and around my teammates, knowing my teammates will be tested twice a week.
“That is the safest environment for me and my teammates, I think. I would argue that at the facility my teammates are safer than just being out and about.”
Johnson asked why Fields has taken this stand, given the fact he is a surefire first round NFL draft pick next April.
“Really, it’s just my love for the game and college football and my teammates and for Ohio State,” Fields said. “I’ve seen guys battle back from injuries. I’ve seen how hard our coaches have fought for us to play. It is really just my love for the game.”
Williams asked about Fields’ understanding that the players “are the product on the field.”
“I just think we are finally now realizing how big of a voice we have,” Fields said. “CoVID-19 and delaying or canceling the season has not sat well with a lot of college football players around the country. This situation has helped us realize we can have a voice in college. But it also brings us together with having one voice and being powerful together.”
Johnson asked Fields whether the Big Ten should have delayed its decision. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC are proceeding with plans to play this fall.
“I think if the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12 all think we can have a season safely, then I don’t see any reason why the Big Ten couldn’t do the same,” Fields said. “I think what we’re doing at Ohio State is very safe. If we can get everybody on the same track in the conference, that would be a safe way for us to conduct the season.”
Fields was asked about the support he has gotten from OSU coach Ryan Day in this effort.
“The last conversation I had with him was pretty much about like he’s fought for us very hard for us to play the season,” Fields said. “Our athletic director Gene Smith has also fought very hard. I really didn’t talk to him about the petition. I know Coach Day and all of our coaches have been fighting for us to play, whether it’s in the spring or the fall. They have put countless hours into phone calls and talking to everyone they can to have the season.
“It’s important to him and the players. That’s what we want to have done right now.”
Williams asked Fields about Ohio State’s safety protocols.
“We’re on a schedule to get tested twice a week,” Fields said. “Those days are usually Mondays and Thursdays. Usually when we’re in the building, we wear a mask. The only times we don’t wear a mask is, of course, during practice and when we’re working out.
“During meetings and when you’re walking around the hallways, you have to have a mask on at all times. When we walk in the building, they check our temperatures. They ask us a list of questions to see if we’ve been around anybody who has had CoVID. That whole process we have to go through brings us a sense of security and everybody feels safe there.”
Johnson asked Fields about how his teammates feel about playing this season.
“The players see the movement and, I guess, they encourage it,” he said. “But what they really want to see is a season happen. I don’t think it has hit the players that we’re not playing. But if we’re sitting at home and watching the other conferences play, that would hit somewhere down deep.
“It doesn’t hurt that much till you realize you’re not playing. I think it will impact them when they see others conferences and other schools playing and we’re sitting at home, not doing anything.”
Johnson asked Fields about the name, image and likeness movement for players to be able to be compensated.
“That is another big conversation,” Fields said. “For me, right now, that’s not on the top of my list. The top of my list has always been playing football. When I came to play college football, I knew (name, image and likeness) was going to happen. Times are changing.
“There might be guys out there who need to support their family. My family and I have been financially stable my whole life. The biggest thing for me is to be able to play the game I love. That’s my biggest concern right now.”