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Bidwill’s Strongest Leadership Test Ahead?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals- Kliff Kingsbury Press Conference Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Thankfully for Arizona Cardinals’ fans our owner and team president Michael Bidwill was released from a Rhode Island hospital yesterday after being treated for the coronavirus infection.

Immediately following his release, Bidwill, through the Arizona Cardinals’ media outlets, issued the following statement:

“This week, I learned first-hand just how serious COVID-19 is. My immense appreciation for all those on the front lines of this pandemic has only increased and I am particularly grateful to the tremendous nurses and doctors at Newport (R.I.) Hospital.”

“I am also overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness from the Red Sea as well as so many friends and colleagues in Arizona and throughout the country. I’m very fortunate to have this experience behind me and strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing the important measures to avoid it themselves.”

Amazing that Bidwill felt compelled to assert to the public “how serious COVID-19 is” when 3.7 million Americans have tested positive for the highly communicable and debilitating disease and tragically the number of COVID-19 related deaths surpassed the 137,000 mark last night.

Moreover, Bidwill returns to his home state of Arizona which, according to the Daily Courier:

“The State of Arizona has recorded nearly 120,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as of Saturday morning, July 11, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website. One week ago, the state was nearing 100,000 cases.

The ADHS added 3,038 cases Saturday for 119,930 cases statewide. It also reported 69 new deaths for a total of 2,151.”

So, Michael Bidwill made sure to finish his statement by saying: “I’m very fortunate to have this experience behind me and strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing the important measures to avoid it themselves.”

Astonishingly, Bidwill lives in a nation where there are still conflicting opinions as what “the important measures” are for people to avoid infection. While other countries have proven that people wearing masks, maintaining their social distancing and washing their hands as many times a day as necessary is the surest way to flatten the curve—-the United States has taken a less cautious approach and now finds itself being ravaged by the pandemic in seismic proportions.

Thus, today, as Michael Bidwill awakens back home in Arizona as the only NFL owner to have “first-hand” battled the virus, he finds himself in the midst of what could be the strongest leadership challenge of his life.

It’s been an up and down year for Michael Bidwill in that back in the fall, he lost his beloved father and family patriarch, long-time Cardinals’ owner, William V. Bidwill. Yet, on the flip side, Michael’s spirits have been uplifted by the newly burgeoning excitement surrounding his Arizona Cardinals—-a team that some pundits feel is on the verge of potential stardom.

Few people on the planet have more reasons to want there to be an NFL season this year than Michael Bidwill. But—-knowing how serious and scary this virus is to the point of urging everyone to take the highest precautions in order to avoid infection—-how can Michael Bidwill encourage his players and everyone in the Cardinals’ organization to put themselves in greater risk of contracting the disease, by trying to play a game that generates the most heavily and sustained amount of physical contact of any team sport in the world?

Bidwill knows that many of his players are devoted family men, many of whom are fathers—-thus, what humane boss in his right mind would want to put the young families of his employees at risk, let alone the employees themselves?

As the virus is spreading through the southern states like rampant California forest fires, MLB is trying to get its truncated 60 game season started, despite 66 conformed positive cases and glitches in getting timely daily testing results. Meanwhile in Orlando, Florida, a state that is getting shredded by the virus more and more each day, the NBA is trying to keep its selected 22 teams in a “bubble” as it tries to resume their season—-which concurs with the virus-defiant re-opening of Orlando’s Disney World resort. The PGA is off to a good start, but then again, golf and tennis are perhaps the best suited sports in terms of minimizing transmissions. However, football is another story, altogether.

As an inordinate number Americans, for what appear to be political, economic and/or hedonistic (party animals) reasons, want to distance themselves from admonishing scientists and pandemic experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, there are growing concerns and fears from doctors of what the possible long-term and lingering effects of the virus will be for those who are or have been afflicted.

Just last night, Bob Costas in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, said that he has spoken with doctors who believe that the virus can cause lingering lung damage. Therefore, Costas made a compelling case for athletes to take heed of this potentiality because, as Costas put it, “even finely tuned athletes whose physical abilities are diminished by 5% could find themselves unable to compete ever again at the highest levels they are accustomed to.”

The unknowns of the COVID-19 virus continue to make it especially daunting, particularly when unknowing, asymptomatic people can be the most dangerous spreaders of the virus. And particularly when doctors have no real conception yet of what the long-term effects could be for those who recover from the transmission. Plus, as Michael Bidwill has been informed, those who have contracted COVID-19 are very capable of being infected again.

Therefore, the question is—-will Michael Bidwill use his “first-hand” knowledge of the virus as a catalyst to try to lobby for at least a temporary halt to the NFL training camp schedule—-or will Bidwill press forward in support of starting training camps on time?

Now mind you, Michael Bidwill is by nature an intrepid man. After all, he flies his own jet. But, as a pilot, Bidwill knows not to mess with threats of lightning, icy tarmacs or excessive winds. Thus, Bidwill, while up to his chin himself in the throes of this insidious pandemic, which obviously and stunningly his own country has been ill-equipped to handle, has a very import decision to make about this season’s NFL’s takeoff, which is still scheduled a mere two weeks ahead.