Harris, 28, isn’t hanging up his cleats voluntarily, however, as a congenital brain condition — brain arteriovenous malformation — forced Harris to call it a career. Harris originally noticed the symptoms in June 2016 and believed he was having a stroke. Vikings doctors, and later Mayo Clinic staff, diagnosed him, and while the issue wasn’t originally thought to be career-ending, Harris was informed this summer that he shouldn’t continue playing. However, Harris’ brain condition isn’t expected to affect his ability to lead a full, non-football-playing life.
“For a long time, I really depressed about the whole situation but I finally am in the light,’’ Harris said. “At the end of the day, I want to live to be a grown man. Football gave me a good life. I had been playing since I was 10 years old. When it first happened, I didn’t want to talk to the media and any of my teammates, but I’m in a better place now. It took a while but I know my life comes over football.’’
Originally an undrafted free agent out of UCLA, Harris spent the first two seasons of his career with the Chargers before joining the Vikings in 2014. After having served as a reserve for most of his NFL tenure, Harris started all 16 games for Minnesota in 2015 and graded as the league’s No. 23 guard, per Pro Football Focus. That performance led to a new deal, a one-year pact that locked him in with the Vikings through 2016.
Harris spent the 2016 campaign on the non-football injury list, meaning that the Vikings weren’t compelled to pay any portion of his $1.9MM base salary. But Minnesota opted to pay Harris $400K, per Tomasson, and Harris also collected another $100K via a workout bonus. The Vikings ultimately waived Harris in February.