The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.
That last game vs. the Chiefs was probably the last time I’ll ever suit up as a Charger. I ran out of the tunnel, like always, and I lined up next to Phil, like always. Me and him line up next to each for the national anthem before every game. I leaned over to Phil, not knowing if I’d be there next season, or if he’d be there, or if we’d both be gone. “Aye, bro,” I said. “Let’s give everything we got because this might be our last one together.”
Leaving the guys that you’ve been to war with for five years is the hardest part. That’s a long time. It goes quick, but that’s a long time. The relationships I had with the guys in that locker room — I have friends there who I think I’ll be friends with forever.
Wherever I go, my family goes. They understand it’s a business. So when I told them, they was basically like, We down to ride. Whatever team you make, wherever you go, we with you 100%.
I’m actually in Florida right now with my mom, because of the quarantine. She was in Cali. I heard they were going to do a lockdown there, so I flew her out to stay with me. We’re really close. She’s doing good. She usually stays in the house anyway.
It was like the beginning of March when I first started hearing about corona, and at first, it was just crazy. I had just got to Florida, and I was down by the beach just driving around, and it was like hella people out for spring break. And I was like, O.K., people obviously are not taking this serious. Then they gradually started closing things down, and I was hearing all the time about cases rising.
When the NBA got shut down, I think that was everybody’s wake up call. Like, Oh, they shut down the league. Maybe this is a big deal if the league is shut down. It started with the NBA, and then just started trickling down — stores, everything. Closing, closing, closing. We’re done, we’re done, we’re done. That’s how it went.
I’m just watching TV all day. I been rewatching all of the Avengers movies, mainly. I also like playing 2K with the homies. Otherwise, I’m in my room, and if I want to change up the scenery from there I go to the living room. And if I want to change the scenery from there, I go sit on the patio — makes it seem like I’m vacationing a little bit! That’s my vacation — living room, bedroom, patio.
It definitely was different doing free agency now. It was my first time being a free agent, and obviously my first time being in free agency during a pandemic. We were supposed to be able to travel to teams and things like that. You know, they can get a good feel for what type of guy they’re bringing into their locker room and into their organization. Does it play a factor? Maybe, maybe not. But most of us in free agency during this pandemic, we’ll never know.
It’s disheartening to leave the fans that was loyal to you. The fans are what make the game. There were people who were really loyal to the player that I was and were in my corner the whole nine. I always tried to involve the fans in whatever way I could. Before games, I always, always, always signed for the fans. Before every game — at home and away — I always signed. That was just my way of giving back to the people who stayed down for me. That was my way of showing love.
Jacob Gonzalez via AP
And hopefully they can still continue to root for me and cheer me on. But no doubt in my mind that the Denver fans are crazy, and it’s on me to get them to like me, to find my place. I’m the new blood — new kid on the block. Gotta turn heads. That’s what you gotta do.
I just want to say to the Charger fans: To the ones who stayed loyal, I appreciate you. Obviously the holdout wasn’t the most ideal thing for us as a team or for you to watch as fans, but I still got love for y’all. I just hope y’all can continue to cheer me on.
To my coaches: Thank you for the opportunity. It was a pleasure learning from you. I’ve learned something from each and every one of you, in some form or fashion. I respect y’all to this day for it.
And to my teammates: It’s always been bigger than football. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. The bonds that we made will forever hold strong and never be broken. I had a great time with y’all boys, and I wish you nothing but great success. I hope you continue to root for me because I will be rooting for you.
To the whole Chargers organization — fans, coaches, teammates: I want to apologize for not being able to bring y’all a Super Bowl. That was honestly my No. 1 goal, from my time being there to the end. Each and every one of you made me a better player and a better person.