“I wanted to pay tribute to those who worked selflessly for hours, and still do, in some cases…We should all be thankful that so many people worked so hard to lessen the tragic effects of this pandemic.” – Peter King on today’s guest writers
“My football background has been huge for me – both in my medical career and during this coronavirus crisis…In everything, I work to get two percent better to be the best provider I can possibly be.” – Myron Rolle on his football background and work as a neurosurgical resident
“As happens in sports, our teams have many unsung heroes…Those teams perform at a high level because we practice a lot, we care for each other, we pay attention to our mental health. The stakes are so high for everyone.” – Dr. Bruce Meyer on his team’s work at Philadelphia-area hospitals
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 22, 2020 – In the latest edition of Peter King’s Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, five front-line workers, including former NFL safety and current neurosurgical resident Myron Rolle, serve as guest writers and pen essays about their recent work in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Today on NBCSN, The Rich Eisen Show airs at Noon ET, and NBC Sports Football Flex, a one-hour show featuring the most topical news and analysis from NBC Sports’ digital football content, began at 11 a.m. ET.
Additionally, ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and NFL insider Mike Florio and analyst Chris Simms provide analysis and updates on PFT Live. Simms also continues to count down his top 40 NFL quarterback rankings.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
Peter King on today’s article: “I wanted to pay tribute to those who worked selflessly for hours, and still do, in some cases…Thanks for your work during one of the most trying times of your lives. That’s the real message of today. We should all be thankful that so many people worked so hard to lessen the tragic effects of this pandemic.”
Dr. Myron Rolle is finishing his third year as a neurosurgical resident at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He played safety at Florida State and was drafted by the Titans in the sixth round in 2010, also spending time with the Steelers before leaving the NFL for medical school.
Myron Rolle: “During my shifts in the surge clinic, my colleagues and I are foot soldiers in this larger fight…Despite the busyness of this team, one of the most jarring things is seeing empty hallways in the hospital, knowing that family members can’t come in, essential staff is limited and that people in need have had their procedures postponed to allow us to help the very sickest patients.”
Rolle on his football background: “My football background has been huge for me – both in my medical career and during this coronavirus crisis. My defensive coordinator at Florida State was the legendary Mickey Andrews, who taught us this mantra: ‘Get two percent better every day.’…If you add up all those incremental bites, it leads to a big change, and you’ll be so much better than you were when you started.”
Rolle: “I’ve extrapolated that two percent mindset to life. I try to get two percent better whenever I do anything, especially in surgery and the technical skills we rely on every day. That includes learning daily about COVID-19…In everything, I work to get two percent better to be the best provider I can possibly be.”
Rolle: “The thing that’s been most impactful for me throughout the pandemic has been knowing that this is a time when people look for providers to speak their truth, which is a role I hope to help fill for the disproportionate number of black and brown people who are being infected with COVID-19. Disparities in our healthcare system existed long before coronavirus and those are the communities being hit the hardest. For me and my colleagues to be advocates for those groups is an essential to me.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s advice to Rolle: “You should want to be like Myron Rolle. I’ve followed your career – I know you’ll succeed. But you don’t have to be like someone else to succeed. Make your own path. Be the first you.”
Dr. Bruce Meyer is the president of Jefferson Health, and oversees 14 hospitals in the Philadelphia area, with 2,200 doctors, 8,000 nurses and more than 25,000 employees in all. He took issue with my request for what people on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis have learned from their sports backgrounds. “I never played high school or college sports but certainly think that I and my team know a lot about group success and protecting the unit from harm,” Meyer said.
Bruce Meyer on his team’s fight against COVID-19: “Every morning at Jefferson Health, the leaders on our team meet in a virtual conference room for a one-hour meeting we call our Daily Huddle…It has been intense and sometimes tragic, but we have never been overwhelmed because of our preparation through disaster planning exercises and execution of an extremely organized daily incident command structure that cascades throughout the organization. Those daily virtual team meetings ensure that personnel and supplies are distributed to where they are most needed.”
Meyer on his team: “As happens in sports, our teams have many unsung heroes, including our nursing, physician, and direct care staff…Those teams perform at a high level because we practice a lot, we care for each other, we pay attention to our mental health. The stakes are so high for everyone.”
Meyer: “Just like high-performing football teams, we trust and respect each other, we are committed and accountable to each other, and we are results-oriented. You don’t need to have coached or played sports to be a great team member or leader. Brilliant, high-performing teams and leaders are built from people of diverse experiences. I am proud to be their captain.”
MEG MARIE FORD
Meg Marie Ford wrote on behalf of her younger sister Sara Thiel, a Special Olympics athlete and essential worker at Pavilions grocery store in Mission Viejo, Calif. Sara has worked at Pavilions for 11 years and has played sports with Special Olympics of Southern California for over two decades.
Meg Marie Ford on her sister, Sara: “My sister Sara has participated in Special Olympics since grade school…Sara has focused mainly on sports like basketball, softball and floor hockey, because they allow her to be a part of a team after growing up in a world where people like her are often left out, or picked last, or mocked just for trying to play with other kids.”
Ford on Sara’s job: “Her job duties as a Pavilions courtesy clerk include bagging groceries for customers, making sure the store is clean and ensuring carts are available for shoppers as they enter, but now the stakes are much higher. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, she did have days where she worked through worry and frustration…During the first few weeks, when the store was crowded with people who were frightened and angry and trying to hoard food and supplies, she would text home to say she was scared. The uncertainly around health protocols was also a stressor and sometimes had her in tears on the way to and home from work.”
Ford: “Many of her coworkers have been unable to return to work, but as long as she’s healthy and able, Sara will be at her store. She’d as soon quit her job as walk off the playing field and has filled in extra shifts and stayed late when asked. She is rigorous in practicing good COVID hygiene at work and at home.”
Ford: “The Special Olympics athletes credo, which they recite before the beginning of games is ‘if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.’ I’m proud to have Sara on my team.”
Josh Hager works as an assistant principal for the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, a school of 1,700 students in Clark County School District. When the district went from in-person to virtual education in a matter of days, Hager took charge of getting computers and internet access to students who wouldn’t otherwise have them.
Josh Hager on his school’s actions at the beginning of the pandemic: “We moved, by necessity, ridiculously quickly into distance education operations…If you know Las Vegas at all, we have very disparate social economic strata here. There’s a lot of money in some places and true poverty in others. As we made this transition to virtual classrooms, we wanted to ensure right away that all the students who were receiving nutrition through their schools would continue to do so, and that is still going on.”
Hager on providing technology to students: “You can’t participate in virtual classes if you don’t have Wi-Fi and a computer. I collected names of students who would need computers, and my Site-Based Technician Richard and I met at our school, took apart five Chromebook carts and repurposed 200 of them for student distribution…Kids who don’t have that access were at risk of falling behind. That is not fair, it’s not right, and we needed to address it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.”
Hager on relating his athletic experiences: “In those athletic experiences I’ve found a clue to the mentality a lot of people are taking on to successfully navigate this pandemic: Individual effort helps the team earn the victory.”
Dr. Scott Shurmur is the Division Chief of Cardiology at Texas Tech Health Centers in Lubbock, Texas, and comes from a family of football coaches and players. His cousin, Pat Shurmur, is the offensive coordinator of the Broncos and his father, Fritz Shurmur, coached in the league for two decades. To address a surge of COVID-19 cases, Dr. Shurmur and the cardiology team stepped in to care for ICU patients.
Scott Shurmur on his hospital’s PPE shortage: “The hospital leadership announced that all elective surgeries and catheter lab-based procedures…The reason was not a current or anticipated shortages of hospital beds or ventilators but in fact of personal protective equipment. As of that moment, the hospital had only a five-day supply of gowns and masks, and the supply chain had been interrupted. Our world had changed dramatically in front of our eyes, in the course of an hour.”
Shurmur on working in the ICU: “Shortly thereafter, we as cardiologists began taking care of medically ill ICU patients so that over-burdened pulmonary and critical care staff could focus on the COVID-19 patients. This was a return to our roots as general internists and intensivists…The initial discomfort was quickly replaced, however, by growing confidence, and satisfaction that, in our own small way, we were contributing to the larger, unprecedented effort.”
Shurmur on his football background: “As division chief, I am the de facto leader of the group…In this way, I see myself functioning somewhat as a head coach. This analogy frequently comes to mind, I suppose likely because I’ve had close family members in the NFL both at the assistant and head coach level continuously for the past 45 years. The dynamics of the coaching staff and the definition of its roles are an area where I’ve had the great privilege of having intimate knowledge.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- The Rich Eisen Show: Rich Eisen, a four-time Sports Emmy studio host nominee and NFL Network’s first on-air talent, brings his Los Angeles-based The Rich Eisen Show to NBCSN at Noon ET today and Friday this week.
- PFT Live: Mike Florio and Chris Simms continue to discuss offseason storylines.
- Simms Unbuttoned Podcast: Simms continues to unveil his Top 40 NFL quarterbacks with Nos. 1-5 throughout the week.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.