Darren Woodson is no stranger to a fight, having battled his way from being a walk-on linebacker who was viewed as undersized at Arizona State to a four-time First-Team All-Pro safety and three-time Super Bowl winning safety for the Dallas Cowboys. But when he was struck by COVID-19 recently, the Ring of Honor inductee found himself nearly down for the count. In a recent interview with WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas, the 51-year-old didn't pull punches about his experience with the novel coronavirus. Despite taking every possible precaution, it still found its way into his home and ravaged the NFL legend.
"We did everything to prepare ourselves for COVID," Woodson said. "We isolated ourselves. We basically quarantined ourselves."
So how'd he ultimately get infected?
Woodson says his wife was required to take a business trip to Houston -- a raging COVID-19 hotspot -- and came into contact with her business partner, who had contracted the virus. Unaware of it at the time, she then returned home, but was asymptomatic. In a trip to the doctor to be tested after the trip, it was discovered she had contracted it herself, but Woodson and their children all initially tested negative after taking a rapid test.
But, then it happened. As it turned out, Woodson had indeed contracted COVID-19, and it wasted no time making him suffer.
"All of a sudden -- five hours later after a negative test -- I had chills, 102 degree temperature and had all the COVID symptoms," he said. "It felt like I was in a car crash. My body was aching, sore back, legs, hard to get out of bed for a day. It affected me more mentally than physically -- the first couple of days -- I just didn't know when I was going to get back to myself."
Thankfully, Woodson would go on to recover, but he's using his experience as a testimony for NFL players who believe they're somehow immune to the pandemic. As training camps around the league begin to fire up, there are already cautionary tales from Major League Baseball that warn of what could happen this season if players are lax in their discipline, leading them to not take the established COVID-19 protocols seriously. An outbreak within a club is only ever just one mistake away, and Woodson says players would do well to remember that before they make decisions that could put teammates, coaches and opponents in jeopardy.
"Guys can't go out," he said. "Things are different. Young veterans can't go out on the street or into a bar. They are going to have to take precautions going into the season."
The Cowboys have already had a taste of this recently with two-time rushing champ
Woodson wants everyone to stay safe and, in particular for players around the league in training camp and beyond, that means ditching the party scene.