New York Jets offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi has already made the decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic. He lost two family members to the virus, and he currently has a close friend fighting to survive.
Koloamatangi said his decision to opt out was “one of the hardest” to make in his life.
“Football has meant so much for me,” Koloamatangi told television station KITV4 in Hawaii via New York Daily News. “It’s helped me become who I am today in so many ways. So, having to walk away for a year temporarily… My wife and I, it was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make. As a new father, as a new husband, I really had to… figure out how we are going to [mitigate] risks between them, myself when I go out there and play. As athletes, we all accept this year that when I go out there and play, we’re going to at some point most likely contract the virus.”
Koloamatangi didn’t play in a regular-season game last year, but he came up from the practice squad in November. He helped created the Hawaii Towards Zero website to inform people in his native Hawaii about the realities of the virus.
“Our national government has yet to control or contain this virus,” Koloamatangi said. “If that’s the case, there’s no way our sports leagues have. But for me personally, what’s going on in my life, I just couldn’t take on those risks. That is the fact that I have to do job — my real job — which is to take care of my family, my wife and kids.”