Mack Brown says Tar Heels will use face shields, social distancing

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Mack Brown said he's been meeting with all the other head football coaches in the ACC via Zoom and much to everyone's surprise, they all enjoy each other's company.

Jokes aside, there is much that they all agree on, primarily...

"Everybody would love to play, but nobody wants to play if it's not safe," UNC's head coach said Tuesday.

That certainly seems the responsible approach at this point and Brown has repeatedly made it clear that those decisions will not be made by coaches, but rather, by medical experts.

"One of the problems we have as coaches is, we love control and right now we've got responsibility without control," Brown said.

There were 37 positive COVID-19 tests among all UNC student-athletes and staff members who returned to campus during the past month. It's a safe bet that several of those were football folks.

"It just goes from nothing to fast, and that's why we closed the weight room down, and I got people out of the office and just said let's take a deep breath here. And let's let our medical people look at this more closely," Brown said.

The good news - all the football positives are back healthy again. In fact, none suffered any serious trouble.

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"Thank goodness that all of our guys had minor to no symptoms," Brown said.

The goal is to avoid a reoccurrence now that more formal supervised workouts are beginning. Brown said they've redoubled their efforts at safety.

Workouts and weightlifting are now done in masks, they are ordering shields for their helmets and coaches will be equipped with six-foot-long sticks to keep appropriate distances. Still, if anyone, player or coach, feels uncomfortable, they can opt out.

"It's not only important to tell your players that they don't have to play if they don't feel comfortable. It's important that they believe you," Brown said. "There's a lot of macho and young people, young men in college football. This (the virus) is real stuff. If you are uncomfortable at all or anxious, if you want to miss workouts, if you don't want to play, let's do it."

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Until he's told differently, the Tar Heels are preparing to play.

"We can only prepare for what we know is there right now, and right now we have not been told anything different about the season, and we're planning on starting on time," Brown said.

He says that while knowing full well that things are very much in flux. The key? Everyone doing their part.

"We're talking about football today but if we help our country and we help each other, football will take care of itself," Brown said.
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