James Franklin appeared on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo, a 4-hour morning radio show, and spoke with the hosts for fifteen minutes about football, coronavirus and social injustice on Friday morning.
As the pandemic began to take shape around the country, Franklin and the rest of his family made a plan to combat the risk — with the first move being to live six states away for the foreseeable future.
“We're fortunate as a family that we do have a second home and I know not everybody has that option, so let me lead with that,” Franklin said on the show. “When I tell you we have not left our property in months, we would order our groceries to be delivered, they'd sit outside for a certain period of time and we wiped them down.”
Before Franklin, the coaching staff and the players returned to State College, team meetings and other day-to-day business were held remotely, allowing the team to safely practice social distancing.
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One of the biggest factors in Franklin’s family decision to move away from campus was his daughter’s struggle with sickle cell disease and the uncertainty for her that comes with a potential exposure to coronavirus.
“Our youngest daughter has sickle cell disease — not a trait — she's got the full blown disease. So for us, you know, our child's experiences are a little bit different than most,” Franklin said. “Everything that you have to worry about with your child is just heightened for us. If our daughter gets a fever, she's in the hospital for 48 hours.”
With the college football season still tentatively set to begin on time this September for the Nittany Lions, Franklin made the move back to State College for Phase I of Penn State’s return for athletics.
The rest of Franklin’s family, however, has stayed in Florida and does not have any immediate plans to reunite with no set timetable on when they’ll all be together again.
“We just decided, you know, for us, that it’s probably in our best interest for our family to stay in Florida and for us to be apart for at least the first half of the year,” Franklin said. “That was difficult getting on that plane to come back to Happy Valley and leave my family for a long period of time.”
In regards to football, Franklin only sees a season happening if everyone contributes to the greater good of their communities and the people around them.
“We got to do everything we possibly can to keep everybody as safe as we can and then with that, people have choices to make,” Franklin said. “Our players have choices to make, the staff has choices to make, local governments have choices to make, fans have choices to make, and the reality is, we can't reduce all risk.”
Franklin and the rest of the coaching staff are currently keeping position groups separate during film reviews and every participant wears a mask during study sessions and off-the-field meetings.