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Miami’s Manny Diaz wants players to wear masks. ‘It’s about protecting your team’

The Hurricanes’ football coach said the next six weeks of the coronavirus pandemic will be more critical than the last six.
Miami coach Manny Diaz wants his players to take the coronavirus threat seriously and to take steps to protect themselves and each other.
Miami coach Manny Diaz wants his players to take the coronavirus threat seriously and to take steps to protect themselves and each other. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published May 15, 2020

As parts of the state reopen from the coronavirus outbreak, Miami coach Manny Diaz is telling his players not to assume the risk is over. Their team’s season could depend on it.

“The next six weeks will be more important than the last six weeks,” Diaz said Friday afternoon in a Zoom call with reporters.

Related: Six historical lessons college football can apply to the coronavirus pandemic

With more businesses opening and shelter-in-place orders lifting, Diaz’s players will likely have more contact with people than they have since the early part of the pandemic shut down spring ball and shuttered campus. Even if some early data suggests college-aged students aren’t at the greatest risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, Diaz wants them to take the situation seriously.

“At the minimum, you’re talking about a two-week quarantine, right?” Diaz said. “What two weeks is that going to be?”

Beyond potentially being sidelined during offseason conditioning or preseason practices (whenever those resume), there are other risks, too. An asymptomatic cornerback could pass the novel coronavirus to a handful of receivers during practice, infecting them and damaging the roster.

Related: How the coronavirus pandemic has changed football recruiting

That’s why Diaz is preaching the importance of wearing masks in public, even if players find them uncomfortable.

“It’s not about your comfort,” Diaz said. “It’s about protecting your team ... which, if you think about it broadly, that’s all of our messaging, right?”

Diaz, for what it’s worth, is following the guidelines, too, whether they’re sent down by university leaders, public health officials or politicians. He wears a mask in public but not when he’s on a run.

“Like any good team, we’ve all got to follow along,” Diaz said. “You talk about what I’m doing, it’s no different.”

Related: Could college football start without every team? It has before

Despite the uncertainty hanging over the offseason, Diaz is optimistic the game will return and that a season of some sort will still happen.

“I do think there will be college football,” Diaz said.

Until things become clearer, Diaz is keeping an eye on other sports, like European soccer.

He plans to watch Germany’s Bundesliga league when it resumes play Saturday to see what one return looks like during the coronavirus era.

“I just want to see somebody run around and chase a ball,” Diaz said. “... I think that’ll be a fascinating study for the entire world.”

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