Sunday night, it was revealed Doug Pederson had become the second National Football League head coach to test positive for COVID-19, after the Saints’ Sean Payton. On Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles head coach reflected on the news of his test as well as a wide range of other topics involving the team.
Pederson and the Eagles are one week into training camp with the 2020 NFL regular season just over a month away from kicking off. The head coach admitted that he’s in good health and is doing everything he can to keep himself and the rest of his family and players safe going forward.
“First of all, I appreciate everyone’s well wishes,” Pederson said Monday in a press conference. “I had a lot of text messages and phone calls the last 24 hours or so. I know this virus affects people differently, and I am very respectful and mindful of that. I also want everyone to know that I feel great, energy level is high. I really have no symptoms whatsoever, and I am very fortunate because I do know and understand that this virus attacks people a little bit differently. I have been in great communication, constant communication, not only with our medical team and doctors, but also my staff and the team itself.”
“One of the things I learned this off-season is I can still run the team virtually, and that’s what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building. It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.”
Pederson has continued to operate as head coach of the team, with the players having to take the correct precautions to keep working through training camp. The players have continued working through what normally would feature preseason games, but now will aim to remain healthy and in good shape with a busy season right around the corner.
Throughout the off-season, Pederson and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff has worked with players virtually to help them remain in top shape. With the season still a while away, Pederson reiterated the importance of this news coming out now and not during the busy months of a 16-game season.
“It’s never been about one guy or one group of guys,” Pederson said. “It’s been about everybody. This is no different. I’m fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our training camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It’s a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don’t change. We’re going to continue to press forward one day at a time.
“I do everything I can virtually. I just finished up a bunch of player meetings, group meetings this morning already. Guys are getting ready for a walk-through on the field and yeah, [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] being the assistant head coach, he just assumes my role, the day-to-day activities in the building. So he and I talk every single morning. I give him, through communication with him, give him sort of my thoughts on where I’m leading and what I’m thinking, and then he carries that message forward. He’s done a great job so far and will continue that going forward.”
While the Eagles will remain in the mix for an NFC East crown once again, the fears of a postponed season remains very much alive with more and more players opting out to protect their health. The NFL has made no suggestions of cancelling the 2020 season, but very well could if COVID-19 numbers continue to rise into the Fall months.
Pederson admits he expects the season to happen, despite being the latest NFL figure to test positive for the virus.
“My confidence hasn’t changed at all,” Pederson said. “I’m extremely optimistic. I feel like we’re going to play; I’m confident that we are going to play. It’s unfortunate. Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn’t matter. It can affect any one of us. I’m sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn’t matter.”
“So I’m looking forward. It’s full steam ahead for me. I’m itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season.”
The Eagles kick off the 2020 regular season on September 13 against the Washington Football Team, aiming to earn a 12th NFC East Division title.