Updated: Feb 23
Nasir Player got his first introduction to football while he resided in Germany. By the age of 12, he returned to the United States and transitioned from flag football to Americanized style football. Eventually, Player would find himself signing to Ascend Athletics sports agency in April 2020.
While embarking on this journey, no one would have foreseen the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause. COVID-19 has negatively impacted people in its own way. Player, a former East Tennessee State University football player, has not stopped feeling the effects that COVID-19 had on his football career post-graduation.
The lockdown brought about by COVID-19 began around mid-March 2020. At the time, schools were sending students on spring break and deciding whether to allow the students to return to campus. ETSU sent out an email to the students informing them to not return after spring break.
As students moved to online classes, the athletes did not get the luxury of making a virtual transition. In fact, the sports world either cancelled their season or postponed it to a later date.
For football players who have ambitions of going to the National Football League being able to attend their university’s Pro Day is vital in receiving interest from NFL scouts. Pro Day is designed specifically for small university athletes to get exposure that they would have had if they had gotten an invite to the NFL Combine. Unfortunately, COVID-19 took Player’s opportunity to showcase his talents in front of scouts.
“I don’t want to really blame COVID, but it has,” said Player.
Before coming to ETSU, Player revealed in high school that the only way he would be able to join his high school football team was if he went to 6 a.m. workouts. Player wanted to play football so badly in high school, he got up at 4:30 a.m. and walked three miles to practice each day.
Player did not get the opportunity to join the varsity football team until his senior year. Mekayla Brown, ETSU track and field athlete, went to Ridge View High School along with Player. Brown recalls seeing Player take initiative to always give out words of encouragement.
“Honestly, nothing has changed about Nas," said Brown. "He’s still just as determined, if not more like back in high school,."
Going the extra mile has helped shape Player into the athlete he is today.
“I was going to do whatever I needed to do to get what I wanted,” Player said.
On April 25, it was announced that Player signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Player revealed that after signing with the Buccaneers, COVID-19 was still making interruptions.
Because of the pandemic, a lot of what would be in-person interactions had to happen via Zoom. COVID-19 forced teams to make budget cuts and Player was released from the team.
Finding himself coming up short again from a breakthrough situation, Player admitted he was “embarrassed and felt a little bit like a failure.”
Player is no stranger to making it through adversity, though, as he has recovered from multiple injuries throughout his college career.
Artevius Smith, another former ETSU football player, said Player was a reliable person on and off the field. Smith even went as far as to indicate that Player’s abilities as an athlete have positively impacted his college career.
“We can only control what we can control and just go out there and make the best of it with any opportunity that comes your way," said Smith. "Life keeps going, we got to too."
Although Player does not know what is next, he firmly belives that quitting does not coexist with winning.