Given the global pandemic and James Conner’s previous battle with cancer, it was fair to wonder if he was going to play in 2020. According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Conner intends to play this year.
With Marcus Cannon opting out of the 2020 season today, what about fellow cancer survivor James Conner?
The #Steelers running back is playing, per source. Four years cancer-free and in phenomenal shape entering a big season.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 28, 2020
As Pelissero alludes to, Patriots’ RT Marcus Cannon decided to opt out of the season. Cannon, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011, is considered by the league a “high-risk” player and will receive a $350K stipend – an advance of 2021 salary – this year.
Conner was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015. He beat cancer, returned for a final season at Pitt, before being drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 draft. Conner has put in serious work during the offseason and with good reason. 2020 is the final year of his rookie deal and he’s coming off an injury-riddled 2019, limiting him to only ten games (and he wasn’t healthy for many of them), and 464 rushing yards.
It would’ve been more than fair for Conner to opt out of the season. Around 20 players already have, including big names like LB Dont’a Hightower, DT Eddie Goldman, and DT Michael Pierce. So far, no Steelers have announced they are sitting out the season. Players will have until August 3rd to decide. Those who aren’t considered high-risk will receive a $150K stipend. Those with underlying medical conditions considered to be high-risk will get $350K.