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Johnny Knox changes his mind, retires from NFL

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A day after saying he still wanted to play in the NFL despite the Bears terminating his contract, Johnny Knox has decided to retire.

Knox told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he has to face the reality that he still has trouble walking — and isn’t even close to being able to run with the speed of an NFL wide receiver — more than 13 months after suffering a devastating back injury. As a result, Knox said, he is trying to make peace with the fact that he will never play football again.

As an athlete, you don’t want to give up, you want to keep on fighting. That’s how I’ve always been,” Knox said. “But it’s been on my heart for a while. I know how my body feels, and I know I’m not going to be the same and perform at the ability that I used to. So I’m moving on and going forward.”

Knox’s body bent backward in gruesome fashion when he was injured in a December 2011 game against the Seahawks, and as sad as he is not to be able to fully recover, he also realizes how much worse it could have been.

“I was centimeters away from being paralyzed, so just sitting here and talking, I’m appreciative of that,” Knox said. “Just the hard work that I had to put in. Just to be able to stay in and do everything in my daily life that I used to do.”

Knox said he has been down at times, but he’ll remain an upbeat person.

“My whole life, I’ve always been positive, and people ask me, ‘Man, why are you so positive?’ But I know things will work out for the best,” Knox said.

We wish Knox well as he leaves professional football at the age of 26.

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61 Responses to “Johnny Knox changes his mind, retires from NFL”
  1. kcchiefsfandave says: Feb 13, 2013 8:04 PM

    Good luck to him.

  2. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 13, 2013 8:05 PM

    Johnny “Hard” Knox.

  3. steelers4385 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:07 PM

    Sorry man. Wish em the best

  4. vikesfansteve says: Feb 13, 2013 8:07 PM

    He is smart and engaging, he should do well on TV for Fox or NFL network.

  5. davetexansfan says: Feb 13, 2013 8:08 PM


  6. danno1212 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:09 PM

    Thank you for every catch Johnny! You will always be a Bear, and we will always love you! Bear Down!

  7. trevor123698 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:09 PM

    he needs to hear the message of Dead athletes Dont Lie by Dr Joel Wallach. i promise him he could come back

  8. vilelabyrinth says: Feb 13, 2013 8:10 PM

    Hopefully he didn’t waste his money, that was an awful hit he took. Best of luck in the future, kid.

  9. gallaghedj311 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:12 PM

    Never thought he was anything special and I’m no bears fan, but u hate to see anything like this happen to a player. Wish u a full recovery and a successful post football career Mr Knox. May good fortune find u on ur journey

  10. scfr44 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:12 PM

    I feel so sorry for Johnny Knox. He’s a class act that didn’t deserve his NFL career to end like that. I wish him well in life after the NFL!

  11. 4evrnyt says: Feb 13, 2013 8:13 PM

    With the average player lasting 3 years these kids need to remember; the NFL isn’t your career, it’s what you do before you start your career.

  12. seanx40 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:16 PM

    I think this is for the best. No sense him ending up crippled attempting to play again. Good luck to him.

  13. agelardi says: Feb 13, 2013 8:17 PM

    Hope he can one day live life without pain & the aid of meds.

  14. dropkickbanana says: Feb 13, 2013 8:18 PM

    He did the right thing, and he’s leaving before he does any more damage. He played in the NFL however briefly, and lived a dream only a select few get to. He should hold his head high, and move on. It was one hell of an accomplishment in life, and he still has the opportunity to build on it from there. Best of luck Johnny Knox.

  15. larryboodry says: Feb 13, 2013 8:19 PM

    Better to be safe…and enjoy the rest of your life with your wife and children. Best of luck, Johnny!

  16. kabasaman says: Feb 13, 2013 8:23 PM

    Good luck Johnny: Sometimes life sucks.

  17. thehatefulnerd says: Feb 13, 2013 8:25 PM

    Best wishes from a Packers fan Johnny. Respect.

  18. smithopher says: Feb 13, 2013 8:25 PM

    Always sad to see players hang it up due to injury, especially at such a young age. He’s my age and he’s got a hard time walking due yo injury, over a year later at that. That’s too bad. At least he was fortunate enough to make it to the NFL in the first place though, that’s an experience not many people can say they’ve had. Best of luck to you Mr. Knox.

  19. asublimeday says: Feb 13, 2013 8:26 PM

    Gonna miss ya Johnny. Bear down.

  20. ososrule says: Feb 13, 2013 8:30 PM

    Damn, he was one of the fastest guys in the NFL…pretty scary! Good Luck Johnny, you will always be a Bear!

  21. rpiotr01 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:32 PM

    Thank god for that. His injury was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, getting broken in half like that. There is a lot of life to enjoy for him, he lucked out of tragedy once, don’t tempt fate again.

  22. coltzfan166 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:33 PM

    The Bears finally get a good receiver and this has to happen to him. Best of luck Johnny!

  23. justinnelson71 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:36 PM

    That’s rough. Hope the best to him in his careers after football.

  24. vicnocal says: Feb 13, 2013 8:41 PM

    It’s strange how things work out. Johnny Knox slipped on a route on that horrible Soldier Field grass vs the Chargers. Because he slipped, the ball got intercepted. While chasing down the defender, Jay Cutler injured his thumb & missed the rest of the season. Then Knox gets injured on a pass thrown by Caleb Hanie a few weeks later vs the Seahawks. If Cutler was still playing that day, all the situations would’ve played out differently & Knox might’ve not even been in on that play.

    I know that’s a lot of What If, but it’s interesting to me how differently lives can turn out just based on one event.

  25. vegasbearfan says: Feb 13, 2013 8:42 PM

    Best of luck to you Johnny-we will miss you, missed you last year and will again this year. Sorry that you were dealt a bad hand , we hope your injuries will eventually be completely repaired. It has been a pleasure watching you for the short time that had!!!!

  26. smarterfootball says: Feb 13, 2013 8:42 PM

    That’s too bad. Not that I have any special feelings toward the Bears, but this guy always seemed to be very likable. Was really pulling for him to make a good comeback. Hopefully e finds success elsewhere.

  27. ygkr85 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:42 PM

    Thanks for keeping a great perspective on life. Refreshing

  28. skarfacci says: Feb 13, 2013 8:45 PM

    That’s all class. You realize that there are more important things. And life throws you a curve. He played in the NFL. How many people can say that?

  29. stevincinci says: Feb 13, 2013 8:51 PM

    Best of luck to a former teammate of Bernard Scott at the college of Abilene Christian. Life moves on. They both made their respective rosters their first year. Long way from the junior colleges they started at. Time to put the other college education to work. Look at David Pollack as an example. He was almost paralyzed as well, and now an analyst for ESPN.

  30. romoscollarbone says: Feb 13, 2013 8:57 PM

    May the wind always be at your back, Johnny. Here’s to success in future endeavors.

  31. southridge23 says: Feb 13, 2013 9:04 PM

    This is the exact reason why I never complain when an athlete already under contract wants to renegotiate and ask for more money. This kid had less than 5 yrs of service and his career is over and life is changed. Best of luck Johnny.

  32. areyesrn says: Feb 13, 2013 9:04 PM

    I just remember him Running all over the Philadelphia Eagles whenever they faced the Bears…

  33. ijsisk2234 says: Feb 13, 2013 9:05 PM

    Really sucks to hear this, i was hoping for a comeback. Knox would have had a very productive career. Sad thing is he was hustling his tail off to recover a fumble and fatty hargrove had to hit him like that. Boo fatty hargrove and bear down to Knox. #Bear4Life

  34. willcoop62 says: Feb 13, 2013 9:09 PM

    Johnny, I’m very happy to hear that you’re going to do what’s in the best interest of you. Your health is what’s important right now. I watched Daryl Stingley, and his gruesome injury. I really don’t want to see you maimed or killed on that field, man it’s really not worth it. For what it’s worth I really enjoyed watching you, and for sure what I thought was going to be a very productive career. As a Bear fan I’m sad to see you go but ad a human, I’m glad you’re making the right choice. Good luck in your endeavors.

  35. losanginsight says: Feb 13, 2013 9:11 PM

    He did have one of the coolest names in the NFL.

  36. maddbearfan says: Feb 13, 2013 9:25 PM

    Thanks for everything Johnny, you made watching the Bears play a lot more fun.
    Hope things go well for you in the future son.

  37. jimmysee says: Feb 13, 2013 9:34 PM

    This Packers fan wishes Johnny well. He’s a good guy and a fierce competitor.

  38. berrianthehatchet says: Feb 13, 2013 9:52 PM

    And people wonder why the players want all the money they can get when they can get it. Any player is one injury away from being terminated from a non-guaranteed contract. I don’t think contracts should be guaranteed, but I don’t think contract should be all one way in favor of the team. Good luck Knox from a Vikings fan.

  39. baseballstars says: Feb 13, 2013 9:59 PM

    I remember when some people believed Knox could end up breaking the trend of mediocre Bears receivers and become a star. They didn’t feel that way because it wasn’t warranted. Knox made some great catches. It sucks things have turned out this way for him.

    Titans fan here wishing you the best, Johnny.

  40. gooftroopers says: Feb 13, 2013 10:03 PM

    As a football fan you hate to see such a young promising player have his career cut short. I just hope that he spent wisely and can go on to lead a productive healthy life outside of football. Sincerely, a Vikings Fan.

  41. xplicitpits says: Feb 13, 2013 10:37 PM

    Very sad. One of the most gruesome hits I’ve seen in football history. Big Seahawks fan & watched it real time. Much respect to the entire Knox family & Chicago Bears!

  42. boogerhut says: Feb 13, 2013 10:56 PM

    And yet somehow Johnny Knoxville is fine. Doesn’t make sense.

  43. goldenperspective says: Feb 13, 2013 11:04 PM

    Hopefully ESPN switches Mr. Knox for Mr. Lewis.

  44. beefbus says: Feb 13, 2013 11:15 PM

    Thanks for the great memories Johnny Knox, no matter how short. He was an excellent deep threat and returner. Good luck to you in your future endeavors. I’m glad you’re walking.

  45. nobisoreal says: Feb 13, 2013 11:25 PM

    Anthony Hargrove is a scumbag and robbed this kid of a chance to set himself up for life monetarily, let alone a chance to leave any kind of legacy in the NFL.

  46. johnnysoup1 says: Feb 13, 2013 11:39 PM

    Good luck post NFL..

  47. andyvictory says: Feb 14, 2013 12:16 AM

    As a man who will never throw a football, pitch a baseball, or hop on his bmx bike and rip anymore (due to devastating neck and back injuries). My heart goes out to you Johnny. This is as hard as it gets, but props for your truly wise, responsible and admirable decision. Stay focused on how great the “ride” was, and how much better you’re going to make it from here on out. Best wishes to you sir, take this world by storm.

  48. thraiderskin says: Feb 14, 2013 1:05 AM

    Good luck dude, sorry it had the go down like this.

  49. orivar says: Feb 14, 2013 1:43 AM

    That sucks. Hopefully in a year or so he might be back up to speed, can always wish that for him anyways.

  50. jetsflyinghigh says: Feb 14, 2013 1:53 AM

    thought the kid had real potential, a shame to see it go down like that. hopefully he can continue on with a quality life and won’t have too many side effects from this. a shame to see so many down votes from well wishes, people need to grow up. it’s not his fault he did something with his life and you’re sitting in your mom’s basement, just take a look in the mirror and blame that person.

  51. chalkruz1989 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:33 AM

    More players need to follow Johnny Knox’s lead. He’s an athlete, a professional albeit so walking away must’ve been extremely difficult for him.

    But, walking away from the game now before anything life threatening sure beats a year or two more NFL paychecks.

    Knox will be able to play with his children and live a long, healthy life instead of bound to a bed or wheelchair or even worse.

    Players like the money and fame that the NFL brings, but, if it all comes at the expense of your life being hindered starting at the age of 35, is it really worth it?

    Congrats to you Mr. Knox for showing that your health is bigger than the game!

  52. bearsoxass says: Feb 14, 2013 7:34 AM

    What a player, he change history of the NFL. We all miss this future HOF!

  53. tbred2328 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:46 AM

    Good luck Johnny. Wish you well moving forward.

  54. richkotitte says: Feb 14, 2013 8:30 AM

    You made the right choice walking away with your health. Best of luck in the next phase in your life!

  55. cjevans13 says: Feb 14, 2013 1:03 PM

    How in the hell can anyone give a thumbs down to anyone wishing this guy well. He suffered a serious injury and because of that he is retiring. It is the best forhim and his family. This guy could have been paralized.
    I wish you the best Johnny, it was fun to watch you play.

  56. mputelli55 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:52 PM

    I’ll fly my Knox13 jersey next year, and my signed rookie card no matter what. guy was one of my favorite Bears, he had drive and determination even before the injury, getting screwed by martz for freakin roy williams..and still managed to take his starting spot back! Mad Fighter Knox!

  57. iowahbr says: Feb 14, 2013 6:03 PM

    We can pretend the NFL is a big deal but your future is worth a 100 times more than that. You made the right choice, now get your health back.

  58. tigerphins says: Feb 14, 2013 7:14 PM

    cjevans13 says:
    Feb 14, 2013 1:03 PM
    How in the hell can anyone give a thumbs down to anyone wishing this guy well. He suffered a serious injury and because of that he is retiring. It is the best forhim and his family. This guy could have been paralized.
    I wish you the best Johnny, it was fun to watch you play.
    That’s just b/c these cowards know they can hide behind their computers w/o fear of getting knocked out. They’re basically just overcompensating for being nobodies in their actual lives. It’s a coping mechanism to counter feeling so insignificant and worthless.

  59. wretchu says: Feb 14, 2013 7:15 PM

    Absolutely made the right call, Johnny. If you can’t even walk, football is out of the question. Get out while you still are able to. The worst thing that could’ve happened was you get back in the field, get hit in the back and then never walk again. Gonna miss you on the field, Johnny, but life is more important than football.

  60. larryboodry says: Feb 14, 2013 8:57 PM

    “That’s just b/c these cowards know they can hide behind their computers w/o fear of getting knocked out. They’re basically just overcompensating for being nobodies in their actual lives. It’s a coping mechanism to counter feeling so insignificant and worthless.”

    Well-said, tigerphins…We can only hope these callous dopes stay in there parents’ basements forever, and that they never procreate.

  61. larryboodry says: Feb 14, 2013 9:40 PM

    bearsoxass says: Feb 14, 2013 7:34 AM

    “What a player, he change history of the NFL. We all miss this future HOF!”

    Johnny Knox doesn’t need the HOF, or your validation, to be a class act…But thanks for your lame sarcasm.

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