MSU football’s Matt Allen wants to play despite brother’s COVID-19

Matt Allen held a teleconference in late March, near the outset of college sports’ shutdown due to the coronavirus.
The Michigan State senior told reporters he and his oldest brother, Jack, were back in Illinois working out together, with the former All-American honing his youngest brother’s skills at center. Meanwhile, their middle brother, Brian, was in Los Angeles continuing his rehab from a late-season injury he suffered playing for the Los Angeles Rams.
What Allen didn’t reveal is that Brian, about a week earlier, had been diagnosed with COVID-19; on April 15, he became the first NFL player to go public with his diagnosis.
“I had faith in the Rams training staff that they’d get them back to 100% as fast as they could,” Matt Allen said Wednesday on a video call with reporters. “Luckily, he was there with them to be able to recover the way that he did. It stinks that he got it. I’m just thankful that he’s safe now, so thankful that it’s over with.”
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Brian, who is in training camp with the Rams, confirmed his COVID-19 case on April 15 to the Free Press via text after revealing it earlier that night. He was almost back to 100% at that point, about three weeks after his diagnosis, though he told Fox Football Now he continued to suffer from lost of taste and smell. At the time, as he was in L.A. rehabbing a November knee injury, he also said he had sporadic sore throats, fatigue, stiffness and headaches.
“Everything felt different than every other flu I’ve had,” Brian said.
Meanwhile, back home in Hinsdale, Illinois, Brian’s brothers were waiting and wondering about Brian’s condition, while their parents did the same in Florida. Matt said that distance made it tough to comprehend at first.
“When I first heard the news, I was a little bit shocked and pretty nervous just to see how he was doing,” Allen said. “But after I found out, I just called him right away and just asked him how he was and things. And he said that his biggest symptoms were he couldn’t smell out of his nose and that he had a little bit trouble breathing. But other than that, they thought he was doing all right.”
Brian was a fourth-round pick of the Rams in the 2018 draft. He was a four-year letterman who played in 51 career games with the Spartans from 2014-17, including 38 starts, and was a team captain his senior year. Allen earned second-team All-Big Ten honors his final three seasons.
He told Rams reporters last week he still is not 100% healthy from the inability to work on strengthening his knee while in isolation with COVID-19. The Rams had to close, disinfect and deep-clean their facility after his March diagnosis.
“That happened at an unfortunate time just because I was in a pretty critical part of rehab,” Brian said. “I had just started running and getting my strength back. I couldn’t come in the facility for three weeks. So, I was just at home. I think not having that setback, I’d be a full-go right now. But having that month pushback from that complicated things.”
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Allen said his brother’s situation did not dissuade him from wanting to play for the Spartans, whose season was postponed when the Big Ten announced it would not play this fall. However, the fifth-year senior said having that personal experience allowed him to understand why some players decided to opt out or were considering it.
“At the end of the day, if that’s what they thought was best for them, then I’m OK with that,” said Allen, who has 16 starts at center the past two seasons and 30 career games. “Because I know everybody’s goal at the end of the day is to try and make it to the NFL and complete a dream that they’ve been working as hard as they could for for about 15 to 16 years now. … And I’ve always just been fully in, I’d say.”
Allen said the Spartans had plenty of discussions, both among themselves and with new …
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