Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said Friday that he considered opting out of the 2020 season because of health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection, who disclosed in a conference call that he has played with moderate asthma throughout his career, would have been one of the NFL’s biggest names to voluntarily skip the upcoming season. By opting out, Campbell would have had the first year of his two-year, $25 million contract in Baltimore toll to 2021.
“I definitely considered it,” said Campbell, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, which helped restructure the league’s collective bargaining agreement this offseason to prepare to play amid a pandemic. “You have to. You can’t play football with this going on and not think about the risk you’re going to put on yourself and your family.
“And so going through that process, I realized, talking to the doctors and just setting up the protocols and everything you have to do to keep each other safe, I feel like the risks were mitigated as much as we can.”
While the Ravens and the NFL have instituted comprehensive testing and social-distancing protocols during training camp, Campbell acknowledged that, at his size and position, he’s at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms.
At a listed 6 feet 8, 300 pounds, Campbell has a body mass index of over 30, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a risk factor. As a linemen, he’s expected to be in close, sustained contact with other players, making him vulnerable to transmission via respiratory droplets.
“Obviously, being a bigger guy, they put you at a higher risk if you do catch it to have more severe symptoms, which is kind of scary,” Campbell, 33, said. “A lot of guys still have underlying issues, which is also scary. My family and I have some underlying issues.
“But at the same time, I felt like, given the circumstances, I’ve never really gotten sick much. I don’t get the flu much. I’ve been very healthy throughout my life, and with the protocols in place, I feel like you have to kind of make mistakes for you to really catch it with the way the system’s set up for it. So I’m confident that I can go through the season and play at a high level and stay safe.”
Only two Ravens, backup offensive tackle Andre Smith and wide receiver and returner De’Anthony Thomas, opted out of the 2020 season. Other teams were harder hit. Former Ravens and current Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who has asthma, opted out, as did former former Ravens and current New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley. In all, 67 players leaguewide opted out before Thursday’s deadline.