EAGAN, Minn (WKRG) — Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle and Daphne native Michael Pierce says he regrets opting out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“110 percent,” Pierce said Wednesday. “Especially as the weeks went on and the NFL got more adept with dealing with the COVID situation. For sure, I regretted it.”
After playing four seasons with Baltimore, Pierce signed as a free agent with the Vikings last March but opted out of the season in July, just prior to the beginning of training camp. Pierce weighs 340 pounds and suffers from asthma.
“When I made the decision there wasn’t a ton of science behind everything but the mortality rates were rising,” Pierce said. “I talked to my childhood and primary care doctors in Alabama and they weren’t super confident due to my upper respatory situation and I decided to err on the side of caution.”
Pierce says he watched all of the Vikings games on television, but it wasn’t easy.
“There were many times when I said, ‘Dang, I wish I could be out there!'”
Pierce said he was in regular contact with Vikings coaches throughout the season. He visited the Vikings practice facility for the first time Wednesday.
Pierce says the past year was like “an early look at retirement.” He passed the time by working out, learning to play the piano, and buying a dog.
Pierce was paid a $350,00 stipend last year because the NFL deemed him to be “high risk.” His three-year contract advanced to begin this season. That deal guarantees him $18 million.