Skip to content

Risk of head trauma contributed to Jacob Bell’s retirement

Jacob+Bell+Tennessee+Titans+v+Kansas+City+qjp3RaQmpvol Getty Images

When we reported on Jacob Bell’s decision to retire from the NFL Tuesday, the reason given for the choice was that Bell had lost the desire to play.

That’s true, but Bell expanded on the reason he walked away in an interview with Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His lost desire can be attributed to the fact that Bell is concerned about the potential impact continuing to play could have on his post-football life. The guard, who had signed with the Bengals earlier this offseason, said that recent information about head trauma, as well as Junior Seau’s suicide, played a major role as he weighed the options.

“One of my biggest concerns when it comes to the game in general is my personal health,” Bell said. “One thing that’s obviously on the minds of a lot of people lately is brain research and all the stuff that’s going on with that. One of the big things that I thought about when I was considering this is how much do I love the game? How much can they pay me to take away my health and my future and being able to be with my family and just have a healthy lifestyle?”

Bell said that he might have made a different decision if he was still making millions of dollars a year, but that the veterans’ minimum wasn’t enough for him to risk winding up with severe problems down the road. Bell cited Seau’s death, but also mentioned watching Titans coach Mike Munchak trying to run on a body that spent 13 years on NFL offensive lines and saying to himself that he didn’t want to end up like that.

There’s been a dissonance between former players suing the league for injuries suffered while in the game and current players complaining that rules designed to make the game safer are in fact ruining it. Bell’s decision is a rare one, but perhaps the increased focus on post-football difficulties will make it less unusual moving forward.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Cincinnati Bengals, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
31 Responses to “Risk of head trauma contributed to Jacob Bell’s retirement”
  1. 1buckeye76 says: May 9, 2012 10:56 AM

    he was scared to play guard in the AFC north.

  2. kh221 says: May 9, 2012 10:58 AM

    Sounds like Bell made a smart decision. I wish him the best.

  3. geauxjay says: May 9, 2012 10:59 AM

    Saints’ fault

  4. preventoffense says: May 9, 2012 11:00 AM

    Cut the season down to 8 games. Cap the maximum pay at 500k per year. Problem solved. Good luck.

  5. beavertonsteve says: May 9, 2012 11:05 AM

    At least he’s honest about that fact that he’d be willing to risk his long term health if we making millions and not the minimum.

  6. godofwine330 says: May 9, 2012 11:06 AM

    …but also mentioned watching Titans coach Mike Munchak trying to run on a body that spent 13 years on NFL offensive lines and saying to himself that he didn’t want to end up like that.

    Now this I can understand. Be well in your post football life, Jacob Bell. Risking health for several millions of dollars is one thing, but for several hundred thousand it may not be worth it. He’s right.

  7. lightcleric says: May 9, 2012 11:06 AM

    It’s good to see someone get out before it’s too late. You have a whole life after football, you need to be able to enjoy it.

  8. guestsinger says: May 9, 2012 11:09 AM

    I hope all of the PFT posters in their virtual football worlds realize that if football is scaled back dramatically in order to protect players from any injury at all that the game will collapse and your fantasy football fix is done.

    Well, I guess it’s on the World or Warcraft or whatever it is you do.

  9. notmanning says: May 9, 2012 11:10 AM

    Cut the season down to 8 games. Cap the maximum pay at 500k per year. Problem solved. Good luck.

    ———————————–

    I like this idea. In kind, ticket prices, parking, and concessions can also be reduced to pennies on the dollar. Much more affordable for the shrinking middle class.

  10. treesloth16 says: May 9, 2012 11:12 AM

    We should just eliminate the sport of football. There’s no reason for these guys to play such a violent game. Even if they wore immense padding around their head/torso, they would still have brain injuries. Let’s just get rid of this stupid game.

  11. longdrive2011 says: May 9, 2012 11:14 AM

    The PFT board seems fairly split about protecting the players by changing the game.

    What changes exactly should be made and how far can it go before the game is no longer entertaining? Most football fans I know do not like the Pro Bowl very much, but that seems like what many are lobbying for.

  12. daysend564 says: May 9, 2012 11:23 AM

    Over/under on number of days until he joins the lawsuit?

  13. bmagochy says: May 9, 2012 11:29 AM

    He saved his money and he wants to protect his future. He wants to have a long life. At least he is honest and has a bright future. Maybe he can talk some sense into Warren Sapp

  14. Kaz says: May 9, 2012 11:38 AM

    I don’t know why Bell thinks anyone cares about his career (I guess he’s positioning himself for the hall of fame vote) or his reasoning. Is he going to have a press conference too? He should be more concerned for the life after football of poor Bradford who will surely have effects after being protected by him the past 4 years.

    Besides, he admits if you read closely it was all about the money. He didn’t want to play for vet minimum. Everything else was just an excuse to save face. If the Bengals release him and someone offers him 1.5 million and an opportunity to start he’d sign and be at OTA’s next week.

  15. yellowxdiscipline says: May 9, 2012 11:41 AM

    Despite the fact that he never played a single down for the Cincinnati Bengals, if he gets arrested in the future the headlines will read “Ex Bengal Jacob Bell arrested….”

  16. dmravens says: May 9, 2012 11:42 AM

    Sounds like a smart guy. Risk Vs Reward, step away at the right time.

  17. steveintennessee says: May 9, 2012 11:45 AM

    I remember a tough as a brick player who in his career ran over people was almost impossible to stop. He retired in a surprise move when many thought he had yrs left to play. : i am walking away before i become a walking mass of scars he was quoted……He was Jim Brown

    Anyone seen Earl Campbell these days….wheelchair bound and he to punished people looks like he got punshed as well.

    Ali looked as was said so pretty as he boxed never got hit …well almost never cept with Frazier and Norton…..look at him now.

    John elway after he retired got both knees replaced.

    Joe Montana said in an interview if he sitas more than 30 min…….he needs help getting up.

    Those are just a few notables.

    Nuff said

  18. purplehayseuss says: May 9, 2012 12:00 PM

    I wonder how long it takes before Robert Smith comes into the conversation. He left the game not long after a couple of fantastic seasons but had already suffered several significant injuries and got lambasted pretty hard for a while; but when he made a similar statement, the critics stopped and he disappeared.

    That was about 10 years ago, when concussions were a fact of NFL life but still ignored.

  19. purplehayseuss says: May 9, 2012 12:02 PM

    Johnny Unitas lost function in his arm altogether.

  20. bengalsredgreenshow says: May 9, 2012 12:11 PM

    Yea but that was two years before unitas retired…

  21. pooflingingmonkey says: May 9, 2012 12:12 PM

    @purplehayseuss says:
    May 9, 2012 12:00 PM …

    You beat me to it. Smith is looking pretty wise right now. Also, +1 for the use of “lambaste”.

  22. vetdana says: May 9, 2012 12:17 PM

    A 1994 study of 7,000 former players by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found linemen had a 52 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than the general population. While U.S. life expectancy is 77.6 years, recent studies suggest the average for NFL players is 55, 52 for linemen. The study also concluded that every year of playing at the pro level reduced a players life expectancy by 3 years.

    Benefits verses Risks…very sobering information !

  23. longdrive2011 says: May 9, 2012 12:27 PM

    Wait a minute! I just thought of this. If they are virtually going to ban to game of football or gut it so it is no longer entertaining in order to protect x% (single digits?) of players, then how on earth do we justify allowing motorcycles on our roads? For that matter, no car should be allowed to reach speeds above 70mph, etc., etc. etc.

  24. ripseau says: May 9, 2012 1:10 PM

    Bare with me here.
    Look at boxing. They bash their gloves into the skull of their opponent for 12 rounds until their brains are eventually mush. When they retire, they’re half mentally challenged and can barely talk.
    Contrary to this take the UFC. The sport has been raging since the early 80′s and, although there was facial reconstructive surgeries, I have yet to see a fighter end his career where it’s hard to understand him.
    The UFC says it’s because it’s a natural thing for the human body to be knocked out. The huge gloves on the boxers make it so they can will themselves up and not go to the floor. Not going to the floor can actually end up killing someone.
    Does the UFC have a brutal image because their small gloves? yes. Is it safer than boxing? yes.
    So what’s the answer? Do they go back to leather helmets? Should their be a weight limit to every player? Its pretty ridiculous but when you have 300+ pound men running full speed at another 300+ pound man with the false protection of a helmet it’s almost sure to have long lasting effects on the brain and body

  25. samoanjungle says: May 9, 2012 1:18 PM

    If he even made the team, which was a long shot considering the young guards the Bengals have and signing Wharton, he would have been on the bench anyway.

  26. gacoltfan says: May 9, 2012 1:20 PM

    longdrive2011 says:
    May 9, 2012 12:27 PM
    Wait a minute! I just thought of this. If they are virtually going to ban to game of football or gut it so it is no longer entertaining in order to protect x% (single digits?) of players, then how on earth do we justify allowing motorcycles on our roads? For that matter, no car should be allowed to reach speeds above 70mph, etc., etc. etc.

    ————————

    I was thinking this same point last week when all the debate about letting your kids play youth football after Seau died. If we look at all kids born in 1969 (the year Seau was born) that played football, how many have died or have serious permanent injuries from playing football. Compare that with all kids born in 1969 who died or have serious permanenent injuries from a car accident when they were 16 – 20. I bet the car accident number is much higher. So should we not allow our kids to drive until they are 21?

  27. bengals69 says: May 9, 2012 2:05 PM

    This is silly. Bell retired because he couldn’t make the team. He was a backup making the vet minimum and in a scrum with Clint Boling and a guy named Hudson to just make the team. He was a turnstile guarding Bradford last season.

  28. paleandpasty says: May 9, 2012 2:23 PM

    So Bell was afraid to get his bell rung.

    Thank you, I will be here all week. : )

  29. alonestartexan says: May 9, 2012 3:15 PM

    vetdana says:
    May 9, 2012 12:17 PM
    A 1994 study of 7,000 former players by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found linemen had a 52 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than the general population. While U.S. life expectancy is 77.6 years, recent studies suggest the average for NFL players is 55, 52 for linemen. The study also concluded that every year of playing at the pro level reduced a players life expectancy by 3 years.

    ———-

    vetdana, if this is true… Jerry Rice played 19 seasons (which means his life expectancy was reduced by 57 years.)

    He’s currently 49 years old, if his life expectancy is 77.6, and he’s 49 right now, that means he should have died before he was born ?

  30. purplehayseuss says: May 9, 2012 3:54 PM

    pooflingingmonkey says: May 9, 2012 12:12 PM

    @purplehayseuss says:
    May 9, 2012 12:00 PM …

    You beat me to it. Smith is looking pretty wise right now. Also, +1 for the use of “lambaste”.

    ***

    Thanks. I’ve wished Smith were back more than once…but then, if he were, there would have been no need for Onterrio “Wizz” Smith, and hence no need for Adrian Peterson.

  31. nopepper123 says: May 11, 2012 2:55 AM

    Awfully ironic that he retires AFTER the Bengals select a Guard in the 1st Round who they claim will be the starter. Maybe it’s Zietler’s coming that causes Bell’s departure……….

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!