Minnesota Vikings backup linebacker Cameron Smith, who went through open-heart surgery last year, has “made the difficult decision to retire from the NFL,” as per an Instagram post he composed Wednesday night.
Smith, 24, had surgery to repair an expanded heart last August after a false positive COVID-19 test prompted the diagnosis of a genetic defect. He missed the 2020 season yet was set to continue his career in 2021.
Smith played a few snaps in Minnesota’s preseason opener on Saturday prior to leaving in the second quarter with a blackout.
“For the past 18 years, football has been such a tremendous part of my life,” Smith wrote in the post. “It has provided countless friendships, incredible memories, and invaluable lessons that will last a lifetime. When I had open heart surgery last year, I grappled a lot with what I had been asking my body to do in order to play this great game. Ultimately, I’ve decided that I’ve been asking for it to do too much.
“After careful consideration and thorough discussion with my friends and family, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the NFL. I know this transition isn’t going to be easy, but I am excited to tackle this next chapter of my life with the same passion and pursuit that I did football.”
Drafted by the Vikings in the fifth round out of USC in 2019, Smith composed that he will “forever cherish” the numerous chances that he has been given through football.