Nike 11-Online Allows Athletes to Train Virtually Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up during practice at NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Houston.(Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)
Brett Coomer/Associated Press

Like most of us, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson didn't get to travel much this offseason. There were no exotic vacations for the 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler, whose travel was generally limited to short forays to work out with fellow players.

However, Watson made one expeditiona safe, virus-conscious trip, he notesto Chandler, Arizona, where he spent two hours training only with himself, in 115-degree temperatures, on a local high school football field.

Sounds like a quest for zen, but Watson was out there in the extreme desert heat shooting training videos for Nike's newly introduced 11-Online virtual training camp platform. The experiencewhich launched Friday for mobile and desktop useis meant to give athletes a chance to stay on top of their games by virtually training with the pros in these strange times.

Watson headlines the quarterback-oriented drills on the platform, which also contains tutorials led by New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

Watson says it's all about "being able to have people, especially during tough times, have an opportunity to stay fit and do what they need to do as far as training."

But a lot of products created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to stick around in this increasingly digital world. This looks a bit like "Celebrity Peloton, Sports Edition." And if/when one feels comfortable returning to group workouts in a gym, they might decide a platform like 11-Online is more convenient or better-suited for them, especially if they don't have those resources at their fingertips or if they live in remote locations.

"I think this is going to be used forever," Watson said. "For people to have this content and this awareness is something great and I wanted to be a part of it."

As for Watson's own regimen, he says he's thankful the Texans didn't encounter any significant coaching or systematic changes during such a limited offseason. But the offense did lose top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in March, and Watson admits he didn't have "enough time with my teammates" this offseason.

"But we found time to get together as safe as possible," he added.