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Vikings’ Antone Exum on playing through injury: ‘I could die out there’

Minnesota Vikings safety Antone Exum played through some serious injuries during the team’s game against the Seattle Seahawks and he indicates now the nature of those injuries and his uncertainty surrounding their extent led him to believe that his “life could have possibly been on the line.”

Exum, whose injuries during the game eventually were diagnosed as a fractured rib and an injured AC joint in his shoulder, has since been placed on season-ending injured reserve. But in an email to the Pioneer Press, the safety chillingly chronicles the thoughts that were going through his head as he insisted staying on the field for the safety-shorthanded Vikings.

“I was feeling a pain in my chest with every breath and motion,” Exum wrote in the email. “It was scary because I didn’t know what it was. Thoughts went through my head: ‘I could die out there,’ just for the simple fact that I didn’t know what the problem was. But I knew we didn’t have anyone else (to play) safety.

“I knew that the way I compete sticks to a code of never giving up. I knew that it means a lot to the guys next to me. Therefore, I couldn’t come out.”

His injuries weren’t diagnosed during the game, and Exum says he has no regrets about staying on the field, despite the fact he was worried about his long-term health.

“I know I didn’t play my best game, and that hurts me because I left it all on the field from an effort standpoint, and we came up short,” he wrote. “But I’m a warrior and made a choice to keep playing when I thought my life could have possibly been on the line. That, I can live with.”

The notion that a football player would continue to play despite apparently fearing for his life, while disturbing, isn’t surprising given the gladiatorial nature of the NFL. But that doesn’t mean it was the wisest decision on Exum’s part, either.

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