Donovan Smith

Buccaneers’ Donovan Smith raises concerns about playing 2020 season: ‘I’m not a lab rat or a guinea pig to test theories on’

By Ryan Gaydos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Donovan Smith will have the job of protecting new quarterback Tom Brady in 2020.

But Smith is unsure whether playing in the midst of a global pandemic is worth it.

“With the start of the 2020 season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind as I’m sure it does for many of my co-workers across the league,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one.

“To continue discussing the many UNKNOWNS do not give me comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking. With my first child due in three weeks, I can’t help but think about how I will be able to go work and take proper precautions around 80+ people every day, then go home to be with my newborn daughter.”

He wondered how players are going to be able to practice safe social-distancing measures when every play requires contact.

“How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferal of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? Yes, we can get tested every day, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I’m not spreading the virus or contracting it. The recurring issue here is how? There are too many ‘hows’ that have yet to be answered to ease player concerns and ensure the safety of not only myself but also my family. I can’t imagine how the game will be the same during these unprecedented times.”

Smith said playing this season would, at the very least, call for a pay raise.

“I’m not a lab rat or a guinea pig to test theories on. I’m a man, a son, brother, soon to be a father, and I deserve to be safe at work.”

Some of the NFL’s health and safety guidelines were reported this week. Some of the rules include no jersey swapping or postgame congregating.

Smith is entering his sixth season with Tampa Bay. He’s played in 79 out of 80 games in his first five seasons.