NFL players choosing their brains over their wallets as more retire

Unfortunately for NFL fans, as long as CTE is a part of football we will continue to see NFL stars in their prime leave the game far sooner than expected.

What would you do for $10 million, annually? Would you cut off a limb, would you put your life at risk, would you subject your body to irreversible damage?

As the phrase goes, “the man makes the money, money doesn’t make the man.” With the recent retirements in the National Football League by players in their prime, that saying is proving to be true.

Over the past decade, more NFL players are receiving information on the long term effects of football collisions and more are taking their future into account.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been a popular topic in the NFL over the past few years after CTE was found in the brains of a number of retired players who committed suicide. This scare has ushered a number of front lines NFL player to an early retirement.

Offensive Lineman Anthony Davis was drafted with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Davis began his career starting every game for the 49ers, over four-consecutive years. In Davis’ 5th season he experienced concussion like symptoms which limited him to only 7 games in 2014.

In 2015 Davis retired due to concussions, only to return in the 2016 season. After experiencing a concussion in practice, Davis decided to call it quits at 26 years of age.

I just want my time and mind intact, when you lose ‘em both, you can’t buy ‘em back.”

Anthony Davis

A former teammate of Davis, Chris Borland decided to hang up his cleats in 2014 after a spectacular rookie season. Borland’s rookie year he accumulated 84 tackles, two interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery. Borland retired at 24, citing a desire to avoid future head trauma and brain damage. His unexpected retirement required him to return three-quarters of his $2.93 million salary to the 49ers.

Although early retirements have increased in the NFL, it was still common place decades ago. Hall of Famers Jim Brown(1965) and Barry Sanders(1998) retired in their 20’s. At the time both were regarded as the best player in the NFL. Robert Smith, running back for the Vikings retired in 2000 after rushing for career highs 1,521 yards and 7 touchdowns, as well as being selected to the pro bowl. He was 27 when he left the game.

Robert Smith, running back for the Vikings retired in 2000 after rushing for career highs 1,521 yards and 7 touchdowns, as well as being selected to the pro bowl. He was 27 when he left the game.

The most recent NFL player to cut his career short is former Baltimore Ravens center, John Urschel. The Penn State alumni who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, decided to call it quits at 26 years old leaving millions of dollars on the table. Urschel’s decision may lead to brighter pastures as he is currently in pursuit of his doctorate in math at M.I.T. Urschel’s retirement came only two days after a study was published finding CTE in 110 of 111 brains of ex-NFL players.

With more studies being revealed depicting the long term detriment of playing football, don’t be surprised if your favorite player chooses his brain over his wallet.