Minnesota Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith announced his retirement on Wednesday night, shortly over one year after undergoing open-heart surgery.
Smith tested positive for COVID-19 last August and further testing revealed that he had an enlarged heart. Smith underwent surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve last November and participated in full in this year's offseason program with hopes of playing this year.
But Smith suffered a concussion in Saturday's preseason opener against the Broncos which led to the decision to hang up his cleats.
"When I had open-heart surgery last year, I grappled a lot with what I had been asking my body to do to play this great game," Smith said on his Instagram account. "Ultimately, I've decided that I've been asking for too much."
Smith was a fourth-round pick out of USC during the 2019 NFL Draft and spent his first season with the Vikings on special teams with eight tackles in five games. Smith was expected to battle for a backup position at linebacker this season but will now leave it to Troy Dye and Ryan Connelly.
“I know this transition isn’t going to be easy, but I am excited to tackle this next chapter in my life with the same passion and pursuit that I did football,” Smith said. “I am grateful for, and will forever cherish, the many opportunities that have been given to me through football.”