Calais Campbell opted to play for Ravens despite underlying condition


Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell battles asthma so he could have opted out of the 2020 season.

Players with that type of underlying health condition could face additional complications with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Campbell, who was acquired from the Jaguars this offseason, decided the best course of action was to compete. 

"My family and I have some underlying issues. But at the same time, I feel like given the circumstance … I’ve never really gotten sick much," Campbell said. "I don’t get the flu much. I’ve been very healthy throughout my life. With the protocols in place, I feel like you have to make mistakes for you to really catch it with the way the system is set up for it. I’m confident that I can go through the season, play at a high level, and stay safe.”

Under an agreement with the NFLPA and the league, players who opt-out will earn $350,000 in 2020 if they are considered high risk, and their salary will roll over to 2021. If players are not at risk, they can still opt-out and receive a $150,000 stipend. 

Only two Ravens players — returner De'Anthony Thomas and offensive tackle Andre Smith — opt out of the 2020 season. 

Overall, 67 NFL players took the opt-out option. In addition, 102 players have been placed on reserve/COVID-19 with 51 since activated after having two negative tests. 

Campbell was part of the players' executive committee and played a key role in establishing some of the guidelines with the coronavirus

“I was part of the executive committee that was setting up all the … Trying to get everything together in that process," he said. "I definitely considered it – you have to. You can’t play football with this [pandemic] going on, and not think about the risk you’re going to put on yourself and your family. So, going through that process, I realized talking to the doctors and just setting up the protocols and everything we have to do to keep each other safe, I feel like the risks were mitigated as much as we can. 

"You can’t get rid of the risks all the way, but we definitely lowered the percentage of catching it based off of the protocols we put in place. For me, I feel like that was enough. Obviously, being a bigger guy, it puts you at a higher risk, if you do catch it, to have more severe symptoms, which is kind of scary. A lot of guys still have underlying issues, which is also scary." 

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