Cardinals Rookie LB Isaiah Simmons Meets Rules of COVID with Maturity

Howard Balzer

Aside from the obvious skills he exhibited on the field during his career at Clemson, what also impressed the Cardinals when they selected linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall choice in April’s draft, was his maturity.

After the selection of Simmons in April, general manager Steve Keim said, “Getting to know the person, I love the way he carries himself. … When you look at the big picture and having the intel that I had from the staff there about the kind of person and player he was, I felt like it was a pretty easy decision.”

That character trait was evident Wednesday when Simmons talked to reporters on a videoconference and emphasized the importance of following the “new rules” of the pandemic when it comes to playing football.

Cardinals players have a credential with a device that ensures they stay six feet apart from others in the facility.

Simmons said, “When I think about all of that, I think it's all for the good of me and the good of all of us. Everything that's going on is literally to help us so we'll be able to have a season this year. Thinking of it in that way opposed to like, ‘This is not what I want from my rookie year,’ thinking of all the negatives. I think about the positive things that are coming out of it. So everybody follows all the rules and then we'll have a season. The players will be happy, the fans will be happy.

“Going about it with a negative mindset, that's just not the way I go with it. The device obviously is helpful. The daily COVID test; I feel like it's nice to know that I don't have corona each and every day. All those things, I feel like they're very beneficial to help us all.”

He’s also all on board with being smart away from the facility with the message coming from coaches and in conversations among themselves.

“We definitely talked about that because one thing that's different about here than college is a lot of guys on the team, they're going home to their wives and children. So it's not just worrying about you, it's worrying about your teammates and people around you. Because you could be impacting more than just you or the guy next to you if you're out being careless around a lot of people, exposing yourself to possibly getting the disease. So honestly (it’s about) just taking all the precautions really serious and knowing what you could be exposing yourself or your teammates or coaches to knowing that they most likely have people to go home to. It could even be your family just knowing who they're around. And, and just thinking about who they could be exposed to possibly bringing it back to you, that you could carry to other people. So it's a lot to think about, the long line of who could be exposed to what, but it’s something that's very necessary if we want to have a season this year.”

Simmons has his mom and brother in town with him, but said the most they do is sometimes go out to eat.

“I don't really go anywhere,” he said. “Other than that (eating out) I kind of just hang out. I'm a homebody kind of guy so I just kind of hang out. There’s not really anything to do anyway with like the whole state shut down. But, even if it wasn't, I'm kind of just a chill, stay-at-home kind of guy, especially with this heat. I don't think I want to go outside.”

Throughout the league, all players should take to heart his words and those of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, which should be posted everywhere.

Asked how the message of being smart is conveyed with the knowledge that one misstep could derail everything, Tomlin said, “You message it thoughtfully. You use catchphrases, and you guys know I like catchphrases. What you are talking about is conduct that is detrimental, and that is a term that is used often in our business and appropriately so. Because in this COVID environment, if you are not exercising discretion and being thoughtful about how you move, that conduct is detrimental to your cause and ours collectively.

“That is the message that I am delivering to those guys. We have to conduct ourselves accordingly. There has been a lot of work to position ourselves to be where we are right now. It is one-fail-all-fail in this environment. We are going to continue to package the messaging that way and be very transparent. It is that. It is conduct detrimental to their efforts and ours.”

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