Justin Fields is still fighting to try to save Ohio State's season.
One day after starting a petition on MoveOn.com that has already received more than 220,000 signatures calling for the Big Ten to “immediately reinstate the 2020 football season” while allowing players and teams to make their own choices about whether to play or opt out, Fields appeared on ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin on Monday morning to discuss why he feels such conviction to push for Ohio State to have the opportunity to play this fall.
The first reason why: Ohio State's seniors.
“The guys that have come back for their fifth year, coming back off of injury, I think we owe it to those guys the most,” Fields said. “I’ve just seen behind the scenes all the work that they’ve put in and how much they really care about it, and I also believe all the coaches and all the players’ parents want us to play, and they’re also safe with the guidelines Ohio State has set.”
Even though Fields is already projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, he's still fighting to be able to play another season with the Buckeyes this fall because of his love of the game.
“My love for college football, and my love for my teammates at Ohio State. I’ve seen the guys battle back from injuries, and I’ve seen how hard our coaches have fought for us to play, so really just for them, and just my love for the game,” Fields said.
Fields said he isn't sure it's really even hit him and his teammates yet that the Big Ten has postponed their season, but that it will if they're stuck sitting at home this fall and other conferences are playing. And the fact that the ACC, SEC and Big 12 haven't canceled their seasons yet is reason enough for Fields to believe the Big Ten should also be pushing forward.
“If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 all think that we can have a season safely, then I don’t see any reason why the Big Ten can’t do the same,” Fields said. “If we’re sitting at home watching the other conferences play, I think that’s gonna hit somewhere down deep. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt that much until you realize that you’re not playing, but I think the players don’t realize how much it’s gonna affect them once they see other conferences and other schools playing, and we’re just sitting at home not doing anything.”
"If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 all think that we can have a season safely, then I don't see any reason why the Big Ten couldn't do the same."— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 17, 2020
@justnfields on the Big Ten postponing fall sports pic.twitter.com/ibAjBsDkIm
Asked why he would be willing to assume the risk of contracting COVID-19 to play this fall, the Ohio State quarterback said he understands the risks but believes he and his teammates are safer together at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center than they would be “off-campus just doing whatever.”
“I think COVID, you can contract it anywhere, but me personally, I feel safer at the facility, around my teammates, knowing my teammates are gonna get tested twice a week,” Fields said. “That’s the safest environment for me and my teammates in my opinion. So I would have to argue that being at the facility for me and my teammates is safer than just being out and about.”
Fields said the last few weeks have made him realize how big a voice he has, and he – along with other college football stars like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence – are using that voice to make their case for why they should be able to play this fall.
“I just think we’re finally now realizing how big of a voice we have,” Fields said. “I think COVID and canceling the season, I think that hasn’t sat well on a lot of college football players around the country. So I think this situation is not only making us realize that we have a voice in college football, but it’s also bringing us together in terms of making one voice and becoming more powerful together, and that’s shown I guess over the past few weeks or so across social media. I think it’s a great thing.”
Fields believes Ohio State coach Ryan Day, his assistant coaches and athletic director Gene Smith have also all “fought very hard” for the Buckeyes to get the chance to play this fall.
“Whether it’s in the spring, whether it’s in the fall, I just know that they’ve been putting countless hours into phone calls and just talking to everyone they can to just have a season,” Fields said. “I know it’s important to him, and it’s definitely important to the players, so that’s just what we want to be doing right now.”