Over the past week, over 30 NFL players have decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to health concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons for their concern have varied from person to person. Some have a loved one in a high-risk category, others themselves may be considered high-risk due to their weight or medical history. Another common reason we’ve seen players opt out is because they have an infant child or one on the way.
That last concern relates to Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker, who is expecting a son in the near future. However, in an interview with former Lion Glover Quin, Walker said he can’t sit out from football right now.
“I definitely can’t opt out, man,” Walker said. “I miss football too much. I love it too much to—I need the NFL to shut it down if I’m going to have to stop playing.”
Walker said he’s ready to follow all the protocols the team has to keep the virus at bay, as long as it means he gets to be out there for when football returns. As to how he’s been preparing, Walker’s been working out with some of his teammates all offseason, especially some of the younger players in the secondary.
“I’ve been bringing these guys—when they come into town—I’ve been having the guys come out, work out with me,” Walker said. “I think the most we’ve had is about seven DBs, all of them young. We’ve just been going at it. I’ve been trying to show them how to grind.”
Walker thanks Quin for teaching him “Each One, Teach One,” a popular proverb expressing the importance of paying it forward when it comes to education.
Year 3 could be a critical one for Walker. With all of the previous leaders in the secondary now gone—Quin, Quandre Diggs, Darius Slay—Walker is now the seasoned veteran of the group in Detroit. Walker knows this could be his breakout year, and he’s been preparing for it since the offseason began, from consuming tape to changing his diet.
“You know I’m ready,” Walker said to Quin with an excited smile. “I’ve been putting in that offseason grind. The more time I’ve had, the more time I’ve been able to just break down film and just, critically break down what I’ve made mistakes at”
One aspect that Walker has been working on—that he admits he struggled with earlier—is the mental aspect of the game.
“I became more of a student of the game,” Walker said. “You know like I know, at this level everybody fast, everybody’s strong. The mental aspect, that helps separate the great from the good. Honestly, that’s one thing I’ve been more focused on. I’ve always known I’ve been physically gifted, but my mental aspect wasn’t always there always. Sometimes I was relying on just my athletic ability. But now I feel like I see the game with a whole ‘nother mindset.”
If you want to get hyped for Walker’s 2020 season, I suggest you take 30 minutes out of your time to watch this right now.
As an added bonus, you get to hear Walker refer to the penalty that negated his first career interception—and the one that essentially lost the Lions the game in San Francisco—”bullshit.”