Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, is seen with wide receiver Chris Godwin, center, and quarterback Tom Brady during a private workout Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, is seen with wide receiver Chris Godwin, center, and quarterback Tom Brady during a private workout Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa. (Chris Urso/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

They are role models, and so they should be setting the example, strapping on masks and social distancing and washing their big hands. Instead, many pro athletes are indulging themselves, and that's going to ruin it for everyone.

The disregard many athletes are showing for safety as the United States keeps breaking records with new coronavirus infections sets the stage for mass outbreaks as leagues restart. Those outbreaks will lead to shutdowns, the way Texas hit the brakes on its reopening last week. Everything's bigger in Texas, including COVID-19 idiocy -- unless you're TB12 in Tampa.

Tom Brady last week posted an Instagram message parroting Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Actually, the insufferable twit could fear infecting Bruce Arians, his 67-year-old head coach who is a three-time cancer survivor.

Any question about Brady's sociopathic entitlement was answered in that post. The post was a response to the NFLPA and the NFL begging players to stop practicing together -- a plea in the wake of a host of stars commingling with abandon, Eagles among them.

Earlier this month, Fletcher Cox hosted a 14-player workout with defensive-line pals from all over the country.

Incredibly, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson endorsed this outrage.

"I love [it]," Pederson said of Cox's mask-free mashup. "I commend the guys for doing that and taking time. That's a great way to start building chemistry."

No. In a normal offseason, it's a great way to start building chemistry. During a pandemic, it's a great way to spread a deadly virus all over the nation.

We've seen positive tests from significant players in all sports as teams and tours recommence. These next few days and weeks are crunch time for players to adjust their behaviors. If you want an NFL season, and if you want Major League Baseball to begin, and if you want NBA and NHL playoffs, then the players must be willing to sacrifice their freedoms.

This is how you behave.

You get up, you put on your mask, you go to the stadium or the arena or the ballpark or the golf course. When you're there, you eat breakfast and lunch and dinner – whatever meals the team can provide you. You do your baseball or football or basketball or hockey activities.

Then you go to your home or hotel. Directly. Do not pass "Go," do not collect $200, do not get coffee at Dunkin'.

That's it. That's your life.

You do not go to restaurants. You do not entertain visitors or business associates or friends, and that includes your agent, your buddy, or your latest Tinder temptation.

You do not go shopping.

You do not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go to bars, Dallas Goedert.

You do not spit. The virus travels through expectoration, and everybody who plays anything expectorates, but don't spit. Not into your glove, not onto your hands, not when you swish a mouthful of water after running your 10 gassers. Don't spit tobacco juice, or sunflower seeds, or even loogies. Swallow them. Suck it up, buttercup.

You do not touch your face. You wash your hands all the time, every time you think about it, for 20 seconds.

You use so much hand sanitizer that your skin becomes alcoholic.

This will be hard at first, but playing sports is always a privilege. Playing sports in the middle of a 100-year pandemic is a gift from God to you and therapy for the rest of us. You can't Zoom a home run.

Billions of dollars and millions of fans depend on your self-discipline and your respect for your teammates, for your employers, for your patrons, and for yourself.

Considering their devotion to preparation, a little short-term self-denial shouldn't matter much to elite performers. Athletes erase meat and gluten from their diets. They run for miles in the heat and the cold. They lift tons of weights. They watch hours of tape. All they're being asked to do here is stay away from Wawa for a few months. That's never bad.

These parameters are not unreasonable. Soldiers and sailors surrender their freedoms for the common good, and none of them averages $2 million per year. Or, in Brady's case, $25 million.

Brady's cavalier attitude is made doubly grotesque because: 1) There have been positive tests at the Buccaneers' facility in Florida, and 2) Florida's case log continues to skyrocket so high that Miami beaches will close for the Fourth of July weekend, and Floridians now will be forced to quarantine for two weeks if they travel to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

We all agree that masks are annoying. We all miss haircuts and movies and massages. But not all of us are re-entering high-risk workplaces where we will practice high-risk behaviors. That's why all athletes' behaviors away from their workplaces must, again, be stricter than those of the rest of us.

There's no question they have the discipline to pull this off.

The question is: Do they have the desire?

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