COLUMBUS – Justin Fields does not have to play another in Ohio State.
He has already proven that he is among the best quarterbacks in college football. And he has already shown the NFL scout that he can make throws needed to be a starter at the next level. He has even shown an innate ability to lead a locker room when he enters.
So it might make it even more powerful to see Fields stump for college football along with Trevor Lawrence and the biggest stars in the college game this season.
Fields do not have to play. He wants.
“Too much work has been put in !! #WeWantToPlay, Fields said Sunday night on Twitter.
This announcement has been repeated across the college football landscape since rumors leaked from the Big Ten president and Power Five board meetings over the weekend. The players want to play. Suits hidden behind closed doors are not convinced they can pull off a season in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century.
The simple message posted on Twitter by Fields has been shared by other Buckeyes, coaches and even parents. There is a clear consensus across the board – everyone in Ohio State is ready to start a season, even among concerns about the virus. And they are passionate about it.
“I feel pretty strongly about this, and if the question did not come up, I would say it at the end anyway,” center and captain Josh Myers said during a conference call last week. “I think my level of comfort in our safety is really high. There is nothing more our coaches and coaches and staff in Ohio State can do to protect us. I can not say enough about what they do, and I would say that my level of security is small – I’m not worried.
“I am personally convinced that we will have a season, and I really wanted to say that with restaurants that are open, bars open, other places that are open where people have the freedom to do the things they want to do – which really is probably minor in the importance of their lives – I feel just like people our age can do such things, then I feel strongly that if I want, I would have the choice to play a college football season. I feel that it is an even safer environment to be around my teammates and in the facility and stay where it is clean and safe. I think it’s a safer environment than being anywhere else and going to restaurants and things like that. So I just wanted to say my opinion on that. I strongly, strongly believe in it. I have every faith in the world of our coaches and coaches that they will keep us safe all the way through this thing. “
As shifts in power in sports and professional athletes feel they have more of a voice than they have ever done, the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media will be a test. Players understand the risk of playing in a pandemic and know that the Ohio State protocols have followed into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. They want their collective voice to be heard.
The players logged off when they played. And the coaches are really ready to play. Even the parents, who have their son’s individual interest in their hearts before anything else, have expressed support for playing football.
“As parents, we strongly believe that our sons want to play next season and have full confidence in the university and the coaching staff along with the medical experts have found a safe way for it to occur,” Ohio State parents said in an open letter. “We believe that this age group represents some of the healthiest individuals, while we realize that the risk can not be eliminated, we believe that the risk is minimal and the season can arise safely and responsibly.”
But are the walls in the meeting rooms far above the sports department too thick to hear a scream for a season from almost any angle?
They can be. The presidents of the Big Ten have met – of course behind closed doors – to make a decision. It seems pretty close to hitting midnight on a college football season in the Big Ten.
However, a final foundation from the biggest stars in the league can lead to nothing more than a cancellation.
But if there is one player in the Big Ten who can save a season, it is Justin Fields. He has proven that he can do everything else. He is ready to play another year for the Buckeyes. Not because he needs to.
He wants to play.