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Gowan Opted Out of Final College Season to Protect Baby Daughter

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tay Gowan opted out of his final college season after getting COVID-19 and passing it to his daughter, her mom and his mom.

It would probably take a multitude of books to tell the story of how COVID-19 has affected the lives of so many over the last 14 months.

In the NFL, 69 players made the decision to opt out last summer and miss the 2020 season. In college football, there were also numerous players that made that decision.

However, most of those stories are unknown to the public, dealt with behind closed doors.

Saturday, we learned of one of those stories after the Cardinals selected cornerback Tay Gowan in the sixth round of the draft. After Gowan attended Butler Community College and then had an excellent 2019 season at Central Florida, he was looking forward to the 2020 season. He became the father of a baby daughter and everything was positive. But not for long.

We’ll let Gowan tell his own tale.

After being selected Saturday, he said, “Going through my 2019 season, I dominated, and I knew that the 2020 season would have put me either in the first or second round based off my 2019 season.”

We know what then happened.

“COVID hits,” he said. “I have a premature daughter born at two pounds, and I got COVID. I gave it to her, her mom, my mom. My mom was actually hospitalized for COVID; no one really knows that. I went through a rough time with COVID and at the time I feel like I needed to protect my family, so I made the decision to put football aside even though I’ve been playing since I was five years old. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but at the end of the day I’m a family man and will always put my family first no matter what.”

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Not playing the game he loves made for a long season.

He said, “It was one of the toughest things of my life. Sometimes I don’t know what I would do without football. It would be really tough, not playing. But I knew that I ultimately made the right decision because there’s a little girl here that didn’t ask to be here that is dependent on me, health-wise, resources-wise, education-wise. I just needed to be there for her.”

While he believes missing the season affected where he was drafted, there are no regrets.

“I think it hurt my draft stock, but I think it was also a part of my journey and a part of my story when I get to tell it to other kids and relate my message and relate my journey,” Gowan said. “It’ll make kids feel more comfortable taking the type of route I went. I feel like I’m in a great spot. I feel like God wanted me with the Cardinals.”

When he got the call from the Cardinals, even 223 picks into the draft, it was a great moment he shared with his daughter.

“It was very emotional because I opted out because of her and wanted to protect her,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about COVID at the time, so I had to make a decision to protect her. Sharing this moment with her was everything and she may not understand what I did for her, what I did for us really, but hopefully one day she’ll get to look back and say that she’s proud of her dad and made the right decision.

“I ended up in a great place and I’m so ready to work for the Cardinals.”

The Cardinals and the Phoenix area should also be proud to have Tay Gowan as a new member of the community.