Leo Koloamatangi is the first New York Jets player to opt-out of the 2020 season. The young offensive lineman will instead fight COVID in Hawaii.
Ian Rappaport of NFL Network is reporting that the New York Jets have their first opt-out of the 2020 season. Leo Koloamatangi has decided against playing football in 2020. According to Chris Burke of The Athletic, he will continue his offseason work, fighting COVID-19 in his home state of Hawaii.
The #Jets have an opt-out: OL Leo Koloamatangi, source said, informed the team that he’ll do so due to COVID-19 concerns. He got playing time late last season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 28, 2020
A few months ago, Koloamatangi helped launch Hawaii Towards Zero, an initiative to aid the state's fight against coronavirus spread. His company, GRAMMI, provides essential grocery delivery in Hawaii.https://t.co/AMcmd1p5sX https://t.co/iI3wB3BzPr
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) July 28, 2020
Koloamatangi is a career backup offensive lineman. Undrafted out of Hawaii in 2017, Koloamatangi signed with the Detroit Lions. He was put on the Lions’ practice squad in both 2017 and 2018. After being waived at the end of camp in 2019, he found his way to the Jets practice squad.
After a rash of injuries, Koloamatangi found his way to the Jets active roster in November of 2019. He has never played a snap in an NFL game.
Koloamatangi joins a number of influential players across the NFL who have opted out of the 2020 season. Six New England Patriots have opted out, among them Patrick Chung, Dont’a Hightower, and Marcus Cannon. The Buffalo Bills lost starting nose tackle Star Lotulelei due to the opt-out. It’s not yet known if any other Jets will follow Koloamatangi and opt-out of the season.
There’s no doubt that the Miami Marlins outbreak has influenced at least some decisions. The NFL, like MLB, will not be in a bubble. Teams will be traveling across the country, and that means going to and from hotspots. The most prominent on the Jets schedule being Miami.
When these players see another league attempting to do something similar, and failing. It likely gives them little confidence that the NFL will be able to have a season without COVID-19 spreading.