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Jeff Capel Returns to Sidelines after Almost Being Hospitalized by COVID-19: ‘It’s a Bitch’

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On Monday afternoon, Jeff Capel announced that he would be back on the sidelines for the Panthers’ upcoming game against Duke on Tuesday night at 8 p.m., despite nearly requiring hospitalization during his bout with COVID-19

Last week on Dec. 19, Pitt announced that Capel had tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to miss the Panthers’ game against Louisville. 

“It was a bitch,” he said about his experience with the virus. “To be honest with you, it was tough. I had symptoms, and it was difficult. It was difficult dealing with the symptoms, the isolation was hard. I understand a little bit better now or have a little bit better of an understanding of why solitary confinement is a form of punishment.”

Capel also included that for him one of the toughest parts of dealing with the virus was this confinement, comparing it to the famous movie “Castaway.”

“I understand why Tom Hanks painted a volleyball and turned it into Wilson and why he lost his mind when Wilson went away,” he said, adding, “It’s difficult. The isolation is difficult. The sickness and the different symptoms and things like that. I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have it as bad as some people have. I didn’t have to be hospitalized. I was close, but i didn’t have to do that, so I’m grateful for that. But, it’s a bitch.”

Capel, who did include that he is now doing better, went on to talk about how he still believes that the season should not be going on during a pandemic. 

“I just think that when you look around, what’s going on in this country, with this virus, with this disease, and you see the impact that its having on people, that its having on families, that it’s having on our country, and you listen to people talk about don’t travel, and don’t do these things, and things like that, it just doesn’t feel right. Especially at our level.”

In the past, Capel has been one of the most outspoken coaches in the nation advocating that players are not amateurs. He added to that today when speaking about the protocols that are set into place in professional sports as opposed to those used in college athletics this year. 

“The players aren’t getting paid to do this,” Capel said. “It’s different to me when you are a professional athlete. That’s different. That’s your job, and you can make a choice. You can make a choice whether you want to do it. And on the professional level, the rules are the same for each team. The leagues determine what the protocols are. Our protocols are across the board. You’ve got some teams that test every day, some teams that test three times a week, you have some conferences that do something different. I don’t think we should be playing right now, but i don’t think my experience of having covid strengthened that at all.”

Just a few weeks back, Florida forward Keyontae Johnson made national news after collapsing to the floor during a game. Johnson happens to be the cousin of Pitt wing Au’Diese Toney, who was visibly shaken when he heard the news. Since then, Johnson has recovered and left the hospital, but many are still questioning what really happened to him and whether or not it related to the coronavirus. 

“I also think there are a lot of things that you don’t know about, a lot of long term effects,” Capel said. “It’s amazing to me that this thing with the kid Keyontae Johnson, and thank God he’s better, but it sounds like it maybe had something to do with covid, with the Myocarditis. It is actually amazing to me that that is not a bigger story.“

Capel will be look to extend Pitt’s two-game road winning-streak in his return to the sideline for the Panthers when they take on Duke on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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