Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews never considered opting out despite being diabetic

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, one of two current NFL players with Type 1 diabetes, was always committed to playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Opting out never really crossed my mind," Andrews said Monday. "Obviously, I think safety is the most important thing. Seeing what the NFLPA and the NFL has come up with and the system, it's extremely encouraging. I think they have a great system in place. For me, it was never 'I'm going to opt out' or 'I may not play.' I've always been very strong in my beliefs that I keep my body healthy and I'm going to do everything necessary to make sure I don't get COVID."

Andrews, who reached his first Pro Bowl last season, was diagnosed at age 9 with Type 1 diabetes, the autoimmune disease that prevents his pancreas from producing insulin. While there is not enough data to indicate whether people with diabetes are more likely to get coronavirus, the American Diabetes Association warns that those with this underlying condition have a higher chance of experiencing serious complications if infected.

The only other known, active NFL player with Type 1 diabetes is Houston Texans wide receiver-returner DeAndre Carter. Andrews constantly checks his blood sugar levels throughout the day and wears a continuous glucose monitor around the facility and during games.

"I'm a healthy person and I've worked really hard since a very young age of keeping my body in the best shape and keeping tight control of my blood sugar," Andrews said. "At the end of the day, that's the most important thing. I'm treating myself as a normal person. If I would get COVID, it would interact just like anybody else because I treat myself like anybody else would."

Andrews, 23, led all NFL tight ends last season with 10 touchdown catches. A third-round pick in 2018, he became quarterback Lamar Jackson's favorite target, catching 64 passes last season for 852 yards.