The NFL has started the process of opening up, but not every player will be reporting to training camp. Due to the coronavirus, multiple athletes have announced they will be sitting out the 2020 season.
However, cancer survivor James Conner won’t be one of them.
Per a report via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Steelers running back has no plans of sitting out 2020.
With Marcus Cannon opting out of the 2020 season today, what about fellow cancer survivor James Conner?— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 28, 2020
The #Steelers running back is playing, per source. Four years cancer-free and in phenomenal shape entering a big season.
This isn’t a massive surprise, as an ESPN article in June noted that Conner wasn’t worried about playing during the coronavirus pandemic. Conner said he’d still take precautions like everyone else, but added that his immune system had healed and that he shouldn’t need to take any extra safety measures because of his history.
Conner tore his MCL during his junior year at Pitt in 2015, but was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the rehab process. Conner has since said that he had multiple tumors growing around his heart, and at one point had been told he would have had a week left if his cancer hadn’t been diagnosed sooner.
After six months of treatment, Conner was declared cancer free and was able to play in Pitt’s 2016 season. He was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Conner made the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season, filling in for Le’Veon Bell as the Steelers’ feature back.
Conner’s inspiring journey was recently documented in a book entitled “Fear is a Choice: Tackling Life’s Challenges with Dignity, Faith, and Determination”, written by Conner himself and published in June.
Despite being considered “high-risk” due to his previous health issues, it looks as if Conner will be returning to the Steelers in 2020. After a disappointing and injury-riddled 2019 season, Conner is entering the last year of his contract, making this season a pivotal one for the 25-year-old running back. Conner has been training hard during the offseason, and looks to be the Steelers’ starting running back in 2020.
On May 23rd, Conner celebrated four years of being cancer-free.