Michael Pierce, a former Baltimore Ravens nose tackle who signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Vikings in March, was one of 67 NFL players who opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus. The 6-foot, 340-pound defensive tackle was put into the high-risk category of player opt-outs after consulting with team doctors and trainers, a decision that was based on living with asthma and a scary bout with pneumonia during the 2017 season.

“I would like to play three to five more years or however long my body allows me versus me potentially ending up in the hospital,” Pierce told ESPN. “With someone investing this level of funds in a player, they never want to hear that you’re not going to play. For me, it wasn’t anything they didn’t know already (because of the physical/medical check he went through before signing in agency), so it was a lot easier for me to bring this up to them. They were super supportive and they understood where I was coming from.”

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