“I have been ridiculed about speaking up regarding this issue and it needs to be addressed for myself to safely continue the season.”
His message came after D.J. Matthews, a senior wide receiver, tweeted Wednesday night that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, then deleted the tweet. On Thursday morning, Matthews tweeted, “All the lies smh,” a message that was retweeted by Thompson. Tamorrion Terry, a junior wide receiver, shared Thompson’s message with exclamation points.
Terry’s guardian, Cindy Rewis, tweeted her concerns about player safety. “We need answers and we want the truth! @FSUFootball @Coach_Norvell As parents and family members we deserve to know our kids are safe!” she wrote. “Weekly testing has not taken place and many players have tested + and yet told to remain silent! Silent NO MORE!”
Mike Norvell, the team’s first-year head coach, told reporters Thursday that he planned to meet with players to discuss their well-being later in the day. He added that he held a full-team open forum Wednesday night and that there had been conversations with individual players about their concerns. Some players who have tested positive for the virus have returned to the team after testing negative.
“It’s obviously disappointing to see what was said,” Norvell told reporters of Thompson’s comments in a regularly scheduled Zoom session. “We’ve been very open and transparent throughout this process.”
Players were rallying around the program by mid-morning.
“You guys can come here and check for yourself. the FSU Athletic training staff has been doing everything in their power to keep us SAFE!” sophomore safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey tweeted. “They respected those who chose not to play this year for their safety. But what we can NOT do is let their efforts go unnoticed! Thank you”
FSU’s season is scheduled to begin Sept. 12 against Georgia Tech in Tallahassee, but the coronavirus adds a dimension of uncertainty to all the planning. At a college athletics roundtable at FSU on Tuesday, the university’s president, John Thrasher, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) were optimistic in vowing to press forward.
“It’s up to us to make sure the environment’s safe,” Thrasher said this week, “and I think we’ve done that.”
Athletic Director David Coburn said that players are given a temperature check and are screened for symptoms before being allowed into the football facility each day, in addition to being tested weekly. Coburn also said they’re required to wear masks in the building and to and from practice, and the players maintain social distancing during team and position meetings.