It was great to just be a fan this year, New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder said.
Appearing on the Sports Spectrum Football Special this week, Solder spoke about his decision to opt out of the 2020 season amid health concerns for him and his family. Solder cited his son Hudson’s battle with a rare kidney cancer, and his own previous bout with testicular cancer. Solder and his wife, Lexi, also have a newborn boy.
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“It was a reprioritizing of what’s most important,” he said. “I think, logically, if anyone ever came to you and said, ‘Hey, would you give up your job for the health and safety of your family?’ I think all of us would say, ‘Undoubtedly, yes.’ I tried to boil it down as much as I could. There were so many other factors on the line.”
After seven seasons with the New England Patriots, Solder signed with the Giants prior to the 2018 season. He missed time during the 2019 season when Hudson underwent checkups and treatments for his cancer, which was originally diagnosed when he was just 3 years old.
Since then, it’s been an up-and-down journey on and off the field for Solder. He suffered an injury during the 2019 season, which took a toll on his emotional health when combined with his son’s health.
“To watch your son go through that — the fear and anxiety and just the real sadness of how hard that is to see — put me in a real tailspin emotionally. I kind of fell through,” Solder said. “It’s not an excuse. I’m not making an excuse for my performance that season, but I did realize how dependent I am on that emotional stability. It’s taken me a while to get back to that. It’s taken me several months, and thankfully through prayer, a great wife, and a good community and therapy, too, it’s been good.”
With health and safety for him and his family at the front of his mind, Solder decided to sit out this season and allow himself to spend more time with his family, as well as recharge mentally, physically and spiritually. He was able to just slow down for a season, and even enroll in seminary.
“It was the first season in a while that it was less stressful,” he said. “I didn’t have the expectations. I could just spend time with my family, have friends over, and just sort of those fun things that people get the chance to do before football seasons.”
Solder acknowledged that he forfeited quite a bit of money by sitting out, and as a left tackle he wrestled with the tension of not being there for his quarterback and teammates this season. It was not an easy decision, he said.
Solder will be 33 when the 2021 season starts, and having been out of football for a whole season, he’s well aware that re-entering the game won’t be easy. He’s continued to work out and do conditioning, though not quite at the level he normally does during a season. But nonetheless, he’s trusting God with his next steps.
“I feel like I’m mentally and physically in a place where I am looking forward to, if I have the opportunity to play, I’ll probably take it if that’s what God has for me,” he said.
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