Justin Fields is ready to play football, and the Ohio State quarterback and potential Heisman Trophy candidate is hopeful his star power can persuade his conference to reverse its decision to postpone the 2020 season.
Fields has started an online petition to immediately reinstate the fall football season, nixed last week by Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, USA Today reported.
“We want to play. We believe that safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to Covid 19,” Fields’ petition reads, noting he speaks for “football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football” in pleading for players and teams to choose whether to play or opt out of the season.
The petition concluded with the hashtag: #LetUsPlay, and by 10:30 p.m. EDT Sunday had amassed 197,225 signatures.
The Big Ten’s decision to postpone the 2020 season was boned on medical advice and a vote from the conference’s presidents and chancellors, ESPN reported.
In an interview with ESPN before Fields posted the petition, Ohio State center Josh Myers said he and his teammates felt it was safe to try to play in the fall despite the conference’s ruling.
“I felt like if we had a season, I would be safer than if we didn’t have a season, which might sound crazy to some people, but I do,” Myers said. “Everybody that I come into contact with, if we have a season, is getting tested twice a week, they’re in the cleanest of areas. And as a player on a team, you don’t want to be the guy that gets it because you were being a fool and you were out somewhere you shouldn’t be.”
Myers also told the sports news network that, to his knowledge, “Every single player on the team wanted to play. As far as I know, there wasn’t one person who said, ‘Well, hey, maybe this isn’t safe.’ There wasn’t any of that. I never heard it one time throughout the whole process.”
The Big Ten and Pac-12 are the only two of the Power 5 conferences to announce they will not be playing football this fall, while the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and Big 12 are proceeding with plans to begin their seasons in late September.