Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is defending his former quarterback Justin Fields from NFL draft critiques and rumors. But in the process, he threw some unnecessary shots at players who opted out of the college football season due to the unprecedented pandemic. 

“The whole idea that he doesn’t have a very good work ethic?” Day said to Peter King when talking about Fields and the NFL draft. “I mean, to me, that’s crazy. He got done with the Clemson game [a loss in the 2019 playoffs] and he came back and all he did was work to get back to that game. And when those other guys are opting out, what’s he do? He petitions to have a season. He put together this petition that the Big Ten athletes all signed saying that they want to play, but they want to play safely and that they don’t accept canceling the season. It was all led by Justin Fields. Where was everybody else? Where were the guys who were opting out then? You know, you don’t love the game if you’re doing something like that. This kid loves the game.”

Fields is one of this year’s top prospects heading into this year’s draft. Initially, it was predicted that Fields would be the clear No. 2 pick behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Yet, his stock continues to drop despite impressing on the field and at his pro day. During a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, NFL analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky claimed that there were talks with people “associated with decision making” about Fields’s desire to be a great player.

“I heard he was a ‘Last guy in, First guy out’ type of quarterback. Not the maniacal work ethic,” Orlovsky said at the clip’s 1-minute mark. “And the second thing is. … Where is his desire to go be a great quarterback? I think there is a desire to be a big-time athlete. … But where is his desire to go be a great quarterback?”

Although Day can be applauded for sticking by his player and trying to stop this narrative from growing legs, some many fans and analysts believe it could’ve been done without attacking other players or downplaying the severity of COVID-19.