NASHVILLE – D’Onta Foreman considers himself the type of person that doesn’t often get sick.
The Tennessee Titans running back would prefer to keep it that way.
So, Foreman and dozens of his teammates are doing all they can to avoid the clutches of the COVID-19 virus, which is again roaring across the country in even higher numbers than the winter of 2020. The U.S. set a single-day record of 580,000 new COVID cases on Thursday, smashing the previous day’s record of 488,000, per The New York Times.
That surge is reflected in the NFL, which set a record with 96 COVID positive tests last Monday, and featured more than 300 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list as of earlier this week. The Titans have been no exception, as the team currently has six players – Denico Autry, Jayon Brown, Bud Dupree, Julio Jones, Kendall Lamm and Buster Skrine – on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, as well as two more players on the practice squad/COVID-19 list.
That’s why Foreman is putting as much effort into eluding the virus as he does linebackers in the open field.
“I don’t do nothin’ (outside of work) – honestly, I don’t do much,” Foreman said. “I’m so paranoid of getting COVID, like I really do not want to go through that. So (after practice), I go home, I chill. I’m in the house. (When I) get food – it’s Uber eats or something like that. I’m not really leaving too much. That’s how I try to stay away from it.”
It’s a smart strategy on the part of Foreman, considering a combined 31 Titans players from the active and practice rosters have been temporarily sidelined since training camp by COVID. Two players – Dupree and offensive linemen Nate Davis – have twice contracted the virus.
Wide receiver A.J. Brown has been one of the fortunate Titans this season when it comes to COVID, unlike other receivers like Jones, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath.
The third-year pro said he hasn’t had to adjust his lifestyle much to steer clear of people.
“It is tough,” Brown said of the COVID environment. “But I’m a homebody already. I have family that comes in to the game. I pray that none of them catch it and they bring it to me.
“I’m always trying to stay safe, keep my daughter safe. It’s tough. But I don’t mind not going nowhere. That’s what I’ve been doing -- watching a movie or playing pool, just relaxing. That’s what I do. So, I’m cool with it.”
Media and fans are often quick to assess the damage to a lineup that the latest COVID case – or latest COVID outbreak – can wreak upon teams like the Titans.
What’s sometimes gains less attention, especially when it comes sports teams, is how a lot of the players are suffering.
When Lamm announced on a Dec. 23 Instagram post that he had tested positive, he included the following on his message: “I can tell you it’s very real and with my respiratory issues this will not be fun!” That was two days before Christmas, and as of New Year’s Eve, Lamm still hadn’t been removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Rookie cornerback Elijah Molden spent a week on the COVID list, missing the Week 16 win over San Francisco in the process. He was activated earlier this week but hasn’t forgotten his experience with the virus.
“I had it pretty bad, to be honest,” Molden said. “I could barely walk up the stairs. I had headaches, body chills, all that stuff. I had to keep taking naps throughout the day.”
Left guard Rodger Saffold, who was forced into quarantine last week, said his case began with a scratchy throat, progressed into body aches, chills and fatigue, and then moved into respiratory issues, along with nasal congestion and headaches.
“Then one day I woke up,” Saffold said, “and it just kind of evaporated off me.”
A nice ending, but a process Foreman and his fellow so-far-fortunate Titans would prefer to avoid altogether.
So, the dance continues for them, as they do everything in their power to escape an invisible enemy.
“I know I don’t want to be sick,” Foreman said. “Honestly, through the course of my life, I don’t really get sick much. So, I’m not even used to being sick. That would be something different for me. And I’m trying to stay away from that.”