Sports Saban: Players safer at Alabama than 'running around at home'

01:25  11 august  2020
01:25  11 august  2020 Source:   thescore.com

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As the 2020 college football campaign trends dangerously towards cancellation, Nick Saban is siding with student-athletes who want to play.

The Big Ten's presidents reportedly voted to cancel the season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Alabama head coach believes players are at no less risk off the field.

"I want to play, but I want to play for the players' sake, the value they can create for themselves," Saban told ESPN's Chris Low. "I know I'll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don't care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It's a lot higher than that in society.

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Saban 's line of starting running backs at Alabama , beginning with former San Francisco 49ers third-round pick Glen Coffee, each split playing time with a younger back. Then again, the perception that Alabama players enter the pro ranks more beaten up than others isn't limited to just running backs.

When the stories linking Alabama and Saban began circulating last month, almost immediately after Shula got fired following a 6-6 season, the former coach at Louisiana State said he was flattered but not interested. He's bristled at nearly every suggestion about him leaving the Dolphins since.

"We act like these guys can't get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they're in a bar or just hanging out."

Saban's thoughts are similar to many college football stars. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he believes canceling the season would put his peers at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Several athletes - including Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields - called for the formation of a players' union and listed a series of objectives for staging the 2020 season.

Saban noted his team's access to constant testing and monitoring as a reason why playing football isn't as dangerous as attending school.

"We also test anybody that has symptoms and have an open testing site where they can go and get tested as many times as they want or any time they feel like they need to," he said. "But our guys aren't going to catch (the virus) on the football field. They're going to catch it on campus.

"The argument then should probably be, 'We shouldn't be having school.' That's the argument. Why is it, 'We shouldn't be playing football?' Why has that become the argument?"

Crimson Tide players appear to share their coach's sentiment. Running back Najee Harris told ESPN he'd be willing to sign a waiver and agree not to sue the school if he contracted the virus.

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