When Buffalo Bills draft pick Greg Rousseau laces up his cleats and puts on his pads this upcoming season, it will be the first time he has stepped on a football field in more than a year.
The Miami Hurricanes defensive end, taken by the Bills with the No. 30 overall pick, decided to opt out of the last college football season. While many believe that the decision would impact his draft stock, Rousseau’s family explained that he had a very important reason for doing it — protecting his mom.
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Rousseau Puts Family First
As Manny Navarro of The Athletic reported, the 6-foot-6 defensive end decided to opt out of the 2020 season in part to help protect his mother. His older brother, Marvyn Rousseau, told The Athletic that their mother is a COVID-19 nurse at Florida Medical Center in Broward County and saw many young people die from the virus. It was a difficult decision, but the Hurricanes defensive end said he had to put family first.
“I just couldn’t live with myself if I’d had the opportunity to help her out and I didn’t take it, so I decided to do what’s best for me and my family,” Rousseau told The Athletic in 2020.
Marvyn Rousseau added that Miami had become a hotspot for the virus, which weighed on his brother even more.
“He really, really wanted to play. He has so much love for the game,” he said, via The Athletic. “But playing it now comes at a risk. It comes at a cost. It can cost you your body. It can cost you your health. It could cost you your family. You catch it and give to Mom or Dad or one of our grandmothers. Even though you want to play so bad, you’ve got to mitigate the risk.”
As Navarro noted, Rousseau’s decision to opt out came as something of a surprise. He did not inform Miami head coach Manny Diaz until he was in a media session with reporters. Rousseau quickly signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus, bringing his college career to an end after just one season. The team and athletic department was fully supportive of the decision, though some believe it may have cost Rousseau a few dozen spots in the NFL Draft.
Decision May Have Hurt Him
As David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel noted, Rousseau was once seen as a potential top 10 draft pick but saw his stock steadily decline leading up to Thursday’s opening round. The decision to opt out meant that the big defensive end didn’t have a chance to add to his breakout season in 2019, when he notched 15 1/2 sacks as a redshirt freshman. As Furones noted, Rousseau saw other prospects surpass him as he sat out the 2020 season and the hype surrounding him waned.
But the Hurricanes defensive end said he was not stressed about his prospects heading into the draft, even if he were to have fallen out of the first round entirely.
Sunshine State ✈️ Buffalo
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 30, 2021
“For me, the way I look at it, it’s a lot of people out there in the world that wish they could be in my position, even if they were going to go to the draft and fall out the first round,” he said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “There’s people that would pay all the money they got just to get that opportunity. I see it as it’s a blessing to be in the NFL regardless. I’m not going to be distraught or anything. If it happens to me, I’m just going to be ready to see what team calls me on Friday.”
It turns out that the newest member of the Buffalo Bills wouldn’t have to wait the extra day.