It was March 27, 2020 when Kirk Herbstreit ignited the firestorm of all firestorms.
“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens. Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”
This was just one guy not in a position of power giving his opinion, but it was also more than that.
The spring of 2020 was a scary time for everyone, and Herbstreit's comments underscored what everyone feared at the time. Herbstreit is a TV analyst, not a policymaker. Still, his comments touched a nerve to the point where many people that were in a policy-making position felt compelled to play defense against his comments. If you had a vested interest in making the 2020 football season happen, the sport's most recognizable voice saying it won't happen wasn't something you could just let slide.
Again, it was a weird time, and it underlined just how influential Herbstreit is in the college football universe. Over the course of a career that now runs a full quarter century, no comments jumped from his lips to nationwide headlines as quickly and as widely as that paragraph above.
As we know, time ultimately proved Herbstreit wrong on two fronts. The season did indeed happen; it was a skeleton of its normal self, but it happened. The vaccine didn't take a full 12 to 18 months to be approved; shots started going in arms as early as December (though it would ultimately take a full 12 months to become widely available.)
The tone of Herbstreit's comments were absolutely correct, though. The virus is a serious health threat, and unfortunately Herbstreit is now living proof.
Herbstreit tweeted Tuesday that he still can't taste or smell a full five months after his COVID-19 diagnosis.
"Been 5 months since I tested positive for Covid. Still can’t taste or smell. Anyone else experience this?? Did it ever come back?? Haven’t tasted a meal since late December. After 5 months...is this my new normal or will taste and smell come back???"
Herbstreit was forced to broadcast the Sugar Bowl semifinal -- a game involving his twin sons Jake and Tye playing against his alma mater -- from his Nashville home after contracting the virus.
Now, nearly half a year later, he's still living with the symptoms.
Doctors have said the confounding thing about this particular virus is how the symptoms manifest differently in each person. In some people, the virus comes and goes without the host ever even knowing they were infected. Others are forced to live with a particular brand of cruel and unusual punishment with no end in sight.
Please join us in praying for Kirk, and all who continue to try to fight the effects of this horrible virus.