Mac Jones and Najee Harris: ‘We want to play’


CW / Hannah Saad

Quarterback Mac Jones hands off to running back Najee Harris, who cuts up the middle in a 2019 Arkansas matchup.

Alexander Plant | @aplant6, Sports Editor

Alabama football seniors Mac Jones and Najee Harris asked to speak to the media on Friday about the #WeWantToPlay movement that is currently dominating the college football news. 

Prominent college football players like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence began the movement after news circulated that college football conferences were going to be meeting this week to discuss cancelling the season. Both Jones and Harris took to Twitter Aug. 10 and joined the #WeWantToPlay coalition. Jones tweeted the hashtag and released a statement about how he felt about playing football this fall. 

“We believe the safest place for us to be is to be together playing football as a team at The University of Alabama,” Jones said in the tweet. “Trust us and let us play.”

When players first arrived back to campus, there were a total of eight positive tests in the first two weeks of testing. Since then, there has been no official word of anyone else testing positive. 

Head coach Nick Saban advocated for the fall season in an interview with ESPN Aug. 10.

“Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home,” Saban said. “We have around a 2 percent positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

During the press conference Friday, both players advocated for the season to go on by explaining how safe they felt at the athletic facilities and around the team. 

“If I was at home maybe I wouldn’t feel as safe…” Jones said. “Every day we take risks, but we feel comfortable [playing this fall].”

Jones said that the team was getting tested three times a week and Harris later said that there were sanitizing stations and disinfectant sprays similar to the ones seen at the Denver Bronco practice facility.

“We’ve done a good job in the facility of keeping everything as safe as possible, as clean as possible,” Harris said. 

Both Jones and Harris said the team’s morale level was high, but Harris emphasized that he wished there was more certainty about whether or not Alabama would be able to play this fall. 

“That’s on a lot of players’ minds right now, going into fall camp,” Harris said. “I hope we don’t go into fall camp not knowing whether we’re going to play or not.”

Harris said he personally understands that COVID-19 precautions are more important than that certainty, and he understands the process behind making sure players are safe. 

Both players also emphasized their loyalty to the team, stressing that opting out never really crossed their minds. Harris was concerned about postponing the college football season because of the position he plays and his NFL aspirations. 

“For a running back, age plays so much of a factor [in postponing a season],” Harris said. “We can run back the season but we can’t take back the age and time. For a running back, age plays such a factor in the next step if you want to go to the NFL.”

Running backs have one of the lowest career lengths in the NFL, averaging about 2.57 years. 

Practice for the team begins Monday, Aug. 17 and the season will begin Sept. 26. If the conference schedule is kept in the same format, the season opener will be against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium.