By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The game of football has been very good to Djimon Colbert.
It has earned him a scholarship to the University of Iowa where he is in position to be a three-year starter at linebacker this season.
Football is undoubtedly one of the most important things in Colbert’s life right now because it is helping to build a foundation, and set the course, for his life after football.
So it would take something real serious for Colbert to opt out of playing this season, and having concerns about playing during a global pandemic would certainly qualify as serious.
It was reported by Hawkeye Nation on Monday that Colbert has decided not to play this season, but that he plans on returning and competing for Iowa next fall.
And while the article doesn’t say that Colbert’s decision is based solely on his concerns with the COVID-19 global pandemic; that is believed to be the case.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on a zoom conference on Sept. 17 that a “very small number” of players were considering opting out of the season, but he didn’t mention any specific players.
Iowa will face Purdue in the 2020 season opener on Oct. 24 in West Lafayette, Ind., assuming the season will start without any disruptions.
Colbert’s loss is significant from a football standpoint, considering he started all 13 games last season and 10 games the season before.
Iowa is also without linebacker Dillon Doyle, who transferred to Baylor this summer, and shortly after his father, Chris Doyle, had lost his job as the Iowa football team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Chris Doyle reached a separation agreement with Iowa after having been accused of racial disparities by multiple former black players.
Dillon Doyle was expected to be a key contributor for Iowa this season, maybe even a starter.
Iowa is now without two key players at linebacker, and that is obviously a concern.
But some things are bigger than football, even big-time college football, and Colbert’s decision is an example of that.
I just hope those who dismiss, or feel the threat from the coronavirus has been blown out of proportion, will respect and support Colbert’s decision. Colbert is doing what he feels is in his best interest, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks because it’s his life, and his decision.
We don’t know the facts that led to Colbert’s decision, and we might never know all the facts.
It will be up to Colbert to decide if he wants to explain his decision.
The Shawnee Mission, Kan., native has poured his heart and soul into being a Hawkeye, but there is nothing in his commitment that says he would have to play during a pandemic.
This is uncharted territory for everybody, and some react differently.
It didn’t take long for some know-it-all on Twitter to call out Colbert for making an awful decision based on “unbelievable hyperbolic hysteria.”
That same person also presented data about the fatality rates from the coronavirus for the different age groups and said they were so miniscule that they’re hardly worth mentioning.
But what the person failed to mention is that more than 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States alone. He also failed to mention the possible long-term effects from the virus, probably because he doesn’t believe it, or because he doesn’t want to believe it.
The good news is that most of the responses to Colbert’s decision have been positive and supportive. The majority of Iowa fans respect Colbert’s decision, and that’s encouraging.
Numbers can be used to fit whatever narrative you’re trying to push.
But it doesn’t matter what we think in this case.
It only matters what Colbert thinks.
And if he feels it’s too risky to play football this fall, then so be it.
He has my full support, and should have the full support of every Iowa fan.
These are scary and uncertain times, even if some aren’t willing to admit it.