Hopefully the clock is ticking on the eradication of the pandemic. But in the meantime, the clock is ticking on NFL players, members of the Houston Texans of course included, on whether they will decide if they wish to opt out of the 2021 NFL season.
The deadline to do so is 3 p.m. CT on July 2, with the voluntary opt out available to any player who executed his contract prior to Oct. 1, 2020. (In the case of rookies with their new contracts, there is a "higher-risk'' component to the NFL bylaw that may allow for exceptions.)
How does this impact the Texans?
In 2020, the Texans had one opt-out player in defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes. Meanwhile, a player now being counted on in Houston, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, utilized the opt-out rule last season as a member of the New England Patriots. And Cannon is here to testify that there ended up being benefits to taking the opt out that went beyond the rule's original intent.
“This last year was amazing,” Cannon said to Houston media on a Zoom call on March 29, reflecting on his season away from football. “I got a lot of time with the family. A lot of time for myself to work out and stay in shape and just get my body right. Get my body right and my mind right. It was great.''
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Of course, it is not necessarily great for the employer - though the bigger picture is being observed here by the NFL. And there can be financial ramifications, too, as while players who are deemed "high-risk'' for COVID-19 can be entitled to a $350,000 stipend, but voluntary opt-out players will generally not be given a stipend.
There is every reason for the NFL, and for the Texans, to prioritize health and safety. And at the same time, the balance exists in that the league, the team and the athlete are all "in business'' as well.
For Cannon, the balance was clear.
"It was great to have some time off from all of the bumps and bruises I’ve had over the years,'' he said. "The part I’m the most happy about is the time I had with my family. That was great.”