Dan Orlovsky Says He Spoke to Justin Fields After Report About QB's Work Ethic

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2021

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws during an NFL Pro Day at Ohio State University Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
AP Photo/Paul Vernon

Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky caught plenty of heat for his report on Justin Fields leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, but he apparently cleared the air with the Ohio State signal-caller.

Peter King addressed the situation in his Football Morning in America column, noting Orlovsky appeared on The Pat McAfee Show and said he heard Fields is "a last-guy-in, first-guy-out type of quarterback" and questioned "where is his desire to be a great quarterback."

Orlovsky told King he should have been more clear that he didn't believe that or know it from firsthand experience but that two teams questioned Fields' work ethic.

He also talked to Fields and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day about the situation:

"Justin didn't have to take my phone call," Orlovsky said. "He could have said, 'Screw that guy.' I told him exactly what happened, said I wasn't good enough in that moment, and that's on me. He was like, 'I get it. It's OK. I watch, and I know you're someone who's had my back. I appreciate you calling me.' I felt like he was really mature, and I appreciated him hearing me out."

Frankly, it is extremely difficult to accept any narrative questioning Fields' desire to excel on the field.

He was one of the leading advocates for playing the 2020 campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic and even created a petition when the Big Ten originally postponed the season. Once the season actually started, he led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff National Championship and turned heads in the semifinal win over Clemson.

Fields took a monster hit right on the ribs from Clemson linebacker James Skalski and missed a single play. He limped back onto the field, threw a touchdown pass on the very next play and grimaced his way through the game while throwing for 385 yards and six touchdowns.

Day backed his quarterback's work ethic in the wake of Orlovsky's comments, per Nathan Baird of Cleveland.com:

"And we get here and the preseason gets canceled, the season gets canceled, and he doesn't opt out and go to the NFL Draft. I don't know why people have said what they have. I read stuff on my phone and I don't quite understand any of that stuff. Love for football? I mean, there's a lot of guys that opted out. Are they saying the same things about those guys who didn’t want to play?

"Not only does he not opt out, he fights to get the season back. He has a petition. He goes on national TV and fights to get the season back. Then he comes out and plays and plays really well."

King reported he spoke to multiple teams about Fields and "didn't hear any negatives" regarding his work ethic.

Whichever team ultimately drafts Fields will land a quarterback who could alter the trajectory of a franchise for the next decade if he lives up to his potential as someone who can make almost every throw while also making plays with his legs and demonstrating leadership.