The Impact of COVID-19 on Eagles Locker Room

Ed Kracz

Miles Sanders showed up for his videoconference call with reporters on Thursday wearing a mask.

“I’m not trying to get fined,” he said.

The Eagles running back and every player in the NFL, not just in Philadelphia, must begin following the league’s intensive protocols beginning Saturday and continuing for the remainder of the season.

That means no locker room time, grab-and-go meals, among many other social distancing mandates. Basically, players and coaches can gather for on-field practices then it's out the door at their homes for virtual meetings.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country, the NFL is taking no chances. Every day it seems another player or two somewhere in the league tests positive. Eagles receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside did on Thursday after safety Marcus Epps did last week.

Then there are players and coaches who get caught in the fallout of contact tracing and they end up on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, too.

It may be time to wonder if the NFL will be able to finish its season, as the weather gets colder and people are forced indoors.

VIDEO: Hear Miles Sanders talk about COVID-19 Impact on Eagles

“We have to do what we have to do to make this thing work,” said Sanders. “We’re willing to do it and the whole league should be willing to do it and ready for it. We’ve already been in intensive protocol last week and if that’s what it takes to keep this season going that’s what we’re going to do.”

Since the offseason, there has been some form of protocols in place that limited locker room access, cafeteria time, and in-person team meetings. The question posed to some players on Thursday was, how does that affect the chemistry, camaraderie, and team building, and has some of the fun been removed from the game since locker rooms double as “play” rooms?

“We were joking around (Thursday) with a couple of guys on offense, Greg Ward, (Travis) Fulgham, talking noise to them,” said safety Jalen Mills. “That’s what you usually do, you go in the locker room and it’s all fun and games, it’s that competitive stuff.

"So, it definitely kind of deletes that a little bit, but at this point in the season, we’re strong-minded and focused on the goal at hand that it’s OK. It’s all right that we go in the protocol and we don’t get that locker room time.”

VIDEO: Jalen Mills on how COVID-19 has affected the fun usually had in the locker room

Javon Hargrave was one of the free agents the Eagles signed in the offseason. The defensive tackle admitted that there are some teammates he really doesn’t know all that well.

“I’m not sure I know everybody like I should know them, but it definitely impacted just being real close to a lot of my teammates,” said Hargrave.

Playing for the player next to you takes on a different meaning when maybe you don’t know the player next to you, or behind you, or in front of you all that well.

“It’s definitely different,” said Hargrave. “This whole 2020 year has just been really tough for everybody. I made the most of it just getting to know my teammates on the practice field and some in the meetings, but it is what it is, it’s the new world we’re living in, so I’m just going to keep pushing and trying to do what I can do.”

Linebacker Alex Singleton went out and bought a desk for his house to prepare for his work-at-home job as an NFL player.

VIDEO: Hear how Alex Singleton is adjusting in his own way to COVID-19

“I bought a desk actually last night so I could set up an actual kind of office space in my house, so I’m not just sitting on the couch (during virtual meetings),” he said. “I want to have an office, my computer up, so I wanted to set it up as much as I could to be as professional as I could in those situations.”

Singleton said it’s good that every team will now be on the same protocol footing and believes how each team – each player on each team – approaches the new-world NFL will be the one who succeeds best.

“You have to choose to be professional,” he said. “Just like every other company, I’m sure there are some companies that don’t take it all seriously and are falling behind and some that are taking full advantage of it and moving forward and becoming a better and stronger company.

“That’s just kind of what we have to do in this time, everybody as an individual but then as an organization, whether it’s going to be serious and you’re going to take these next seven weeks as just like being in the building or you’re going to take them as a time to stay at home, cook breakfast while you’re in a meeting and not really pay attention.”

For the record, Singleton added that nobody on the Eagles was caught making breakfast at any point during the season or in the offseason.

“A lot of us we get the Wawa burritos,” he said, “so, you throw them in the microwave in the morning and you’re good to go.”

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