Apr. 8—James Franklin won’t insist his Penn State football players get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I don’t think you can ever mandate,” he said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “We’ve learned that in our country. You’re going to have a difficult time doing that.”
But he will encourage, and not just his players. He would like to send the message across the state of Pennsylvania. Maybe it will help get him out of that room above his garage and back in the house with his family.
Franklin is continuing to stay apart from his family — he did the same last year — because his daughter, Addison, has Sickle Cell disease, which puts her at greater risk if she contracts covid-19.
“What I think you can do is educate on why it makes sense (to get vaccinated). That’s the approach that we’ve been taking with our team,” he said.
Franklin volunteered to do public service announcements showing a capacity crowd of more than 100,000 at Beaver Stadium. “Show flashes of Beaver Stadium (and say), ‘If you want to get back to this as soon as we possibly can, this is the step that will help us.’
“That’s not only in Beaver Stadium. That’s in Philadelphia. That’s in Pittsburgh and Heinz Field and all those different places.”
Franklin also suggested Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi could do similar PSAs.
“If we want to get back to somewhat of a normal routine and be able to celebrate and enjoy our professional sports and our college athletics, this could help.
“Me, personally, I’ll get any vaccine they can give me. I’ll take the Moderna. I’ll take the Johnson & Johnson. I’ll take them all if it will help us get back to normal and help me get back with my family.”
One bit of normalcy Franklin is enjoying is the ability to conduct spring practice this year after all 2020 sessions were canceled. But he doesn’t want to sound like he’s making excuses for Penn State’s 4-5 record, the Nittany Lions’ first losing season since 2004.
“I’m always careful when I get questions like this,” he said.
Yet, he recognizes reality.
“For me to sit here and say not having spring ball and having interrupted camp did not affect chemistry and other things, then I wouldn’t be honest. It did.”
Franklin said he treated it like a life lesson.
“No matter what happens, you have to find a way to be flexible and get it done,” he said. “The one thing we can guarantee we’re going to have in our life is change.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .
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