Cameron Brate was among those gathering to work out with new quarterback Tom Brady earlier this offseason, even amid an ongoing pandemic that forced teams to cancel organized team activities and minicamp.
He's also one of the more than four million to have contracted COVID-19 in the United States.
While promoting plasma donation efforts, Brate revealed Wednesday he'd contracted and recovered from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus during the offseason. He didn't spread the virus to his teammates, as he'd stopped working out with them as soon as his potential contact with the coronavirus became a possibility, but he did note that he'd decided to take a "calculated risk" beforehand when convening with his fellow Buccaneers to get some work in.
Brate told reporters his fiancée, Brooke, first started exhibiting symptoms, which forced Brate to quarantine himself before he showed any signs of having contracted COVID-19.
"I initially tested negative, but at some point, I contracted it from her and later became infected," Brate said, via ESPN's Jenna Laine. "For me personally, the only thing I experienced was a loss of taste for two days. So I'm extremely grateful that I wasn't one of the people who got some of the more severe symptoms.
"The way things worked out, I kind of was already in quarantine before I had a positive test or anything. I think the guys continued to work out and luckily I wasn't putting anyone at risk, which was great."
On Thursday, Brate likened that aforementioned risk to the decision to play in 2020.
"It was definitely something we talked about, definitely something we tried to figure out the best way of going about doing it," Brate said of he and his teammates' discussions on how to safely gather. "I would probably say ... we weren't the only quarterbacks and receivers doing that across the league, although I think we were the only ones that had a helicopter above us filming it -- that was interesting for sure.
"We just tried to avoid the risk of exposure to each other as much as possible. We weren't huddling up, we weren't hugging each other or anything like that. We were just having a little catch outside so it was kind of a calculated risk, I would say, that we took in that regard. We did the best we could to try to maintain social distance and really not have too much close interactions with one another."
Such vigilance is essentially what most government outfits are recommending as everyone in the United States attempts to live amid an ongoing pandemic that isn't showing signs of slowing down soon. Instead of bringing the entire country to a halt for a second time, the focus is on social distancing, hand-washing and wearing a mask when in public.
The NFL is following similar protocols and intensifying standards within facilities, establishing rigorous sanitation and health protocols in a maximum effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also attempting to play a close-contact sport. The sooner players embrace this new way of life, the likelier it becomes they, like the rest of the population, remain healthy during this pandemic.
Some have already decided the new environment isn't for them. Brate pointed out what he and his teammates were doing in the spring and summer won't be much different than what will take place in August and beyond. Reflecting on his own experience, Brate acknowledged he could have endangered his teammates had his fiancée not first tested positive and alarmed Brate enough to stay away from his fellow Buccaneers.
That same type of vigilance will be needed across the league, which is why testing has been at the forefront of the NFL's efforts, much like the other professional leagues that have resumed this month.
"There's always gonna be risk involved, because you can't social distance playing football," Brate said. "You're tackling, you're blocking, you're sweating, spitting on each other, whatever -- there's just a lot going on in the game of football."