Rams’ Andrew Whitworth considers himself fortunate after family battles COVID-19

Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth stands in the tunnel before a game.
Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and his wife, Melissa, talked about their family’s recent battle with the coronavirus during a Zoom call on Tuesday.
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

As NFL teams prepare to open training camps amid a COVID-19 pandemic, Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth can offer first-hand experience about the infection.

Whitworth, his wife Melissa, their four children, their live-in nanny, and Melissa’s parents tested positive for the novel coronavirus and experienced symptoms this summer. Melissa’s father was hospitalized but is now recovering.

“There was about 72 hours there where we didn’t know if we would see him again,” Melissa said of her father Tuesday during a videoconference with reporters.


Whitworth, 38, is the second known Rams player to have tested positive. Center Brian Allen did so during the spring.

The Whitworths said their family took precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks.

“Just trying to be as smart as we could with the process,” Andrew, who first revealed his family had been exposed to the virus during a conference call with reporters last week, said.

But they were exposed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to keep fans away from NFL games this season, the Rams are deferring all season tickets to 2021.

July 21, 2020

“The moral of the story is that even when you look at the football season and everything we’re trying to do just across the country…. It’s so contagious that it happens quickly,” Andrew said.

Said Melissa: “Our main message would be you just never know where you’re going to pick it up. It is everywhere.”


The Whitworths said their COVID-19 experience began in mid-June. Their nanny, they said, had traveled to San Diego for a few days, went to a restaurant with a friend and then returned to their home. Workers at the restaurant, they said, were later identified as having been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The Whitworths and their children traveled to Louisiana to visit Andrew and Melissa’s parents, and they then drove to their Colorado home where they spend summers. In Colorado, their nanny and all family members tested positive, the couple said.

Andrew and Melissa said they had mild symptoms until they lost their senses of taste and smell on the same day.

“That’s how we knew, OK this is probably it,” Melissa said.

The children, ages 9, 9, 8 and 5 experienced mild symptoms, but Melissa’s father, Mike Clark, 66, “all of a sudden took a turn,” Andrew said, and the family returned to Southern California.

NFL and the players’ union reached agreement on COVID-19 testing. The players will be tested every day for the first two weeks of camp.

July 20, 2020

“We got him here to L.A. and he went to the hospital here at UCLA,” Andrew said.

Clark was eventually discharged and is still dealing with the aftermath, which includes a bad cough. But the Whitworths consider themselves fortunate.

“I just cannot imagine what people have been through that have lost their loved ones that way,” Melissa said of not being able to be with COVID-19 patients at the hospital. “My dad was there for a week and it felt like an eternity.”

In recounting their experience, the Whitworths said tracing the exact source of their exposure remains elusive.

“In some ways you chase ghosts,” Andrew said. “Being out in the public in any way, you’re presenting an opportunity for that to happen. … We kind of feel like it probably came from this but the truth is no one really knows that answer.”


Most NFL training camps are scheduled to open next Tuesday. Before players are allowed into team facilities, they will be tested. In an agreement reached by the NFL and the players’ union on Monday, players also will be tested every day during the first two weeks of camp.

Whitworth said his family’s experience, “opened our eyes to how contagious this is.” He and Melissa referenced the concerns of couples expecting babies, or who have with family members living in their homes.

“If I were a wife who was pregnant right now, I would be very concerned about my husband playing,” Melissa said. “I would want to know what all the protocols are. I would want to know what the NFL is doing to protect them.”

“Football season as a wife is hard enough. It’s stressful. It’s grueling and exhausting for them, and in turn for us as mothers and wives. And so I’m really interested to see how this plays out. How they’re able to keep families safe throughout this because it’s a devastating virus.”

Whitworth said there also was concern about long-term health effects.

“If I sat around on Google long enough I’d have about a trillion fears right now of all those things,” he said. “So you know what, we’re just handling it day to day…. That’s something that can be an issue and you got to worry about.

“I think you just have to be extremely aware of your body and making sure you’re doing everything you can to take care of yourself.”