Monday night, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland announced he was done after just one season in the NFL. He’s walking away at the age of 24.
The former Wisconsin Badger told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” he wanted to avoid a potential string of concussions that can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Borland gave up millions of dollars and the fame that goes with playing in the NFL because he didn’t want to commit to something that could ruin his life.
This wasn’t a snap decision for Borland, it’s something that he has thought about since getting his bell rung in training camp last season.
Borland said he’s fine right now, but he just didn’t want to take the risk. He said he didn’t want to commit to something that could ruin his life.
According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, Borland met six weeks ago with former Packers linebacker George Koonce. Koonce discussed his 11 concussions and seven surgeries with Borland, and the fact that the road ahead is unknown for the former Packer.
It’s more than the potential for head related injuries. It’s the toll that the game takes on the bodies of its players. The price of playing the game so to speak.
The NFL says concussions were down 25% last year, continuing a three-year downward trend. The league says it continues to make significant investments in independent research to advance the science and understanding of these issues.
But the NFL can spend all the money it wants. Concussions might be down, but they were to high to begin with and the risk will never be eliminated.
Nobody really knows if other players will follow Borland’s lead. It’s an independent decision made by a single player. But the dangers of playing the game are certainly on players minds. It just happens to be a risk vs. reward factor at this time. Most players at this time, aren’t willing to give up the big money, despite the dangers involved.
With that being said though, what kind of roll will Borland’s decision play on the future of parents as they make decisions to decide whether or not they want their children to play? Parents will be saying to themselves, if an NFL player can step away from the game because of the apparent risk involved, why would we want our own children to assume the risk?
People are wondering how Borland’s decision will affect the future at the game at all levels. But we’ll all be anxiously waiting, not to mention, waiting to see who the next Chris Borland will be.
Check out this Google Hangout with MissouriNet Sports Director Bill Pollock and me as we discuss Chris Borland’s decision and discuss many of the same questions we all have about the future of the game and the NFL.