The Minnesota Vikings will not include one of the members of its linebacker team for the 2020 season due to a startling offseason discovery. Second-year player Cameron Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and had to undergo further testing, which revealed a congenital heart condition. Now he will undergo open-heart surgery and miss the entire season.
"Earlier this week I found out I need open heart surgery to fix a bicuspid aortic valve that I was born with," Smith wrote in an Instagram post. "Although this will, unfortunately, end my 2020 season, it is really a blessing that we found this as my heart is severely enlarged and wouldn't have lasted much longer. I found this out after I tested positive for COVID and had to have further testing done as protocol. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I could really feel him on this one!"
Smith continued to explain that this surgery will allow him to return to football after he is healed and cleared by his doctors. Smith did not hesitate before deciding to undergo surgery. He said that he has so much more to accomplish on the field, and he will attack this like he does everything else.
A four-year starter at USC, Smith totaled 354 tackles for the Trojans. He earned All PAC-12 honors during three of these seasons and worked his way into the draft conversation. The Vikings ultimately selected Smith with a fifth-round pick, setting up a rookie season where he appeared in five games and registered eight tackles.
Smith had plans of being the primary backup for star linebacker Eric Kendricks. Now that job could fall to Jordan Fehr, an undrafted rookie out of Appalachian State. However, the Vikings added more depth in the form of Quentin Poling.
The second-year linebacker is only one of many players missing the entire season due to the coronavirus, albeit in a very different manner. Smith is undergoing open-heart surgery while other players are opting out due to health and safety concerns. Nearly 70 players decided to step away from the football field before the NFL's deadline, including two defending Super Bowl champions.
Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and running back Damien Williams both decided in July to opt-out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus. They joined many other players, including several members of the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Devin Funchess, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and New York Jets linebacker CJ Mosley.