Chris Borland thinks more players will choose early retirement

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Former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland said he wasn’t looking to set a trend, but he does think he might become part of one.

After retiring from the game after one season for what he termed health concerns, Borland said he can see more and more players choosing that path.

“Well, I think an old adage is that you play till the wheels fall off,” Borland said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “You play till you can’t anymore. You have to be carried off the field. I think that’ll change.

“I think historically, Jim Brown and Barry Sanders are viewed as early retirements. I think whenever a guy decides to walk away is when he and his family decides he’s not going to play a game anymore. And even if you play for 20 years and are a Hall-of-Famer, you still have a life to live after football. So I think that’s always been a cliché, but that’s starting to get real, tangible results.”

Borland was taking part in a discussion in Detroit for the documentary “Requiem For A Running Back” which chronicles the post-football struggles of former Packers running back Lew Carpenter, who was diagnosed after his death with CTE.

And while Borland said he didn’t view Calvin Johnson’s retirement as an early one, he was concerned about the diagnosis of CTE in Tyler Sash, after the former Giants safety overdosed on painkillers.

“To see a guy who’s probably taken less hits to the head than me to have a stage of CTE similar to Junior Seau was eye-opening,” Borland said of Sash, who had five documented concussions.

Borland was willing to step away early, but there are a number of players such as DeAndre Levy, who admitted last week he still loved the game even while criticizing the tone some owners have taken regarding the link between CTE and football.

“It could be the greatest game in the world, but simultaneously maybe the worst,” Borland said during the panel discussion of the movie. “And the crux of the issue for me, I think, is that what makes it so great is also what makes it detrimental and scary and everything, the violence. So I don’t regret my decision. Miss the game, but that time was going to come at a certain point anyway, so moved on with my life.”

And while it still may be too early to call it a trend, Borland made a conscious decision to step away when he was still in demand, which not every retiring player is.

40 responses to “Chris Borland thinks more players will choose early retirement

  1. At least now players can hopefully understand the extent of the risks involved. Previously, there was still a lot of speculation as to the degree of danger. If you really love the game all you can do is take the risk, hope for the best and manage your money wisely.

  2. So far he’s the only one to jump ship after one year. No exodus thus far. Single individual makes a decision and feels that many more will follow. Active roster, IR, practice squad…no takers yet. His choice, made a little money, receives a few benefits,so I figure it was good for him, but the draw of the game check is great, and for many, to stop doing something you’ve spent the majority of your life preparing for after one go just doesn’t sit well.

  3. Figures the press would try to make this quitter into a hero. He pretended to be ready to make an instant impact on the 49ers defense. He took a $420,ooo contract and $154,000 signing bonus then left. Take the money and run and he’s trendsetter?

  4. Can we just get on with this…Its obvious liberals want this game to banned or converted to flag…

    NFL owners are collectively viewed as wealthy big business cats and Liberals hate those types in General….

    Stop beating around the bush…man up and just do what we all know is going to happen… NFL converted to Flag and owners paying through the nose to fund Obama care…

  5. Unless more players start to have the familial background & college degree that Borland has, the numbers probably won’t go up as much as he is thinking. Sure there may be more Calvin Johnson type retirements (he made tens of millions), but I highly doubt more 24 year old, rookie contract guys are going to walk away due to the paychecks they would be leaving on the table.

  6. Translation: “Guys? I thought we were all going to retire early and forego millions of dollars because we’re worried about a brain disease we know virtually nothing about?”

  7. It obviously wont be an overwhelming majority, but more than enough to show clearly that the NFL landscape has indeed changed. Players taking a year hiatus etc.

  8. I have tremendous respect for Chris Borland. If he was a Packer, I’d be bummed that my team lost a potential annual All-Pro. But I understand why he retired and I applaud his decision and his ability to eloquently articulate what went into it.

    I’d bet the owners are terrified of Chris. And that makes me happy.

  9. Chris is soft and trying to find a way to make money after he quit on his team and left the NFL. Why trust a dishonest person who knew from day one he only planned to play one year in the NFL?

  10. In a sense, all athletes are forced into early retirement. The average person works at least 9-5 until they are 65. So in a way, successful NFL players have kind of hit the lottery. Sure, they worked hard to get there, but very few job choices pay the kind of money that the major sports do. If they had of picked lacrosse they would be looking to continue working as long as they could, knowing they need to find another job when they retire from sports.

    So if a player who makes 5 million a year and has amassed a 20 or 30 million dollar nest egg decides to call it quits when they are 30 instead of 33 and not risk 3 more years of injury it’s not like they are forgoing 30 more years of salary. It’s only 3. It’s a smart financial and health focused move. The fans aren’t going to be there in 10 years when the player can’t get out of bed in the morning because their knees are shot. That will be between the athlete and his family which is really what matters to all of us on a daily basis.

    It’s almost similar to a fireman winning 20 million in the lottery. Sure his job can be rewarding at times, but it’s dangerous. He is likely retiring if he has that kind of money in the bank. He will miss his job, and the camaraderie with his coworkers, but he’s not likely to walk into a fiery building again.

  11. 93civiccpe says:
    Apr 5, 2016 9:54 AM

    Chris is soft and trying to find a way to make money after he quit on his team and left the NFL. Why trust a dishonest person who knew from day one he only planned to play one year in the NFL?

    —————–

    He’s been playing football at a high level for probably 15 years. I don’t think the guy is soft. Then he played in the NFL and only had 617k guaranteed. He fulfilled his contract. Why does that make him dishonest if he decided to call it quits?

    It certainly wasn’t good for the team or the fans, but he didn’t do anything wrong and he certainly doesn’t have enough money to retire on at his age, so he will be working his but off when maybe he could have played for 5 more years and made his 20 million. It was a big decision for him I am sure.

  12. “nhpats says:
    Apr 5, 2016 9:08 AM

    They could either retire early or get “their wives” to seek anti-aging shipments from the Guyer institute.”

    Why must Pats fans accuse everyone else of cheating to justify their own cheating ways?

  13. It’s not “quitting” or “soft” to make this decision; hopefully more players will stop playing prior to getting such a high level of damage done to their bodies.

  14. Ok….global warming may be under debate as to the degree of human contribution however CTE is real. After playing in high school, college and a period of time in professional football everybody playing has the potential for CTE. The more advanced the competition the more violent the play. Now it is a known “risk” and many opt to cut it short knowing the potential consequences. And many will knowingly take the risk and play on until no team will offer them a contract. Money is not worth your life quality.

  15. ocgunslinger says:
    Apr 5, 2016 10:48 AM

    Ok….global warming may be under debate as to the degree of human contribution however CTE is real. After playing in high school, college and a period of time in professional football everybody playing has the potential for CTE. The more advanced the competition the more violent the play. Now it is a known “risk” and many opt to cut it short knowing the potential consequences. And many will knowingly take the risk and play on until no team will offer them a contract. Money is not worth your life quality.

    ———————-

    While I agree with almost all that, the last statement is tricky. Money can also somewhat guarantee your quality of life, along with that of your parents, siblings and children if there is enough of it. Better health care, better food, better education, better home. There is certainly a point where the health risk of playing football isn’t worth it, and I think that is what we are seeing. After all the boxes are ticked in terms of caring for himself and his family a player may not see the need to continue. However, it will continue to be worth the risk for many people despite the risk of CTE.

  16. Why are people taking this so personally? He left the NFL, not the military. It’s just a job. Why would this affect you?

  17. “igornathanhiggers says:
    Apr 5, 2016 8:44 AM

    Can we just get on with this…Its obvious liberals want this game to banned or converted to flag…”
    ==========================================

    Is your life that consumed with extremist far right wing conservative Tea party radio shows that you have to ignorantly blame “liberals” or Obama for the decisions of the lawyers who run the NFL? Are you that obsessed with conservative/liberal labels that you stopped thinking critically and analyzed what a brave decision Borland made for himself and his family?

  18. To all you idiots calling him a quiter: See: Sean Lee. Great player but can’t muster a whole healthy season to save his life. “He quit!” (speaking of Boreland)… like he owes you a damn thing. If it bugs you, don’t read the article. You had to know what it was going to say based on the headline. Ass-clowns…

  19. Or you could be a kicker like Jason Hanson who played for 20 years and rarely had contact. There’s something to be said for being a kicker.

  20. Why is anyone mad at this guy for making his own decisions? Just because he can do something you can’t doesn’t mean he has to.

    He’s not calling for others to retire, he’s simply responding to a question honestly and he’s probably right that more and more guys will retire early moving forward.

    The majority of post-NFL life stories are depressing with or without CTE. Everyone has to do what they think is best for them.

  21. Good for Chris, he obviously believed he had better options. Spent 5 years in college. I assume got a degree or two. As long as he paid back all the money he was supposed to by not playing, it’s his life. Teams will always struggle to find ways to get a feeling of where potential players are mentally….either you love the sport or you don’t. 49ers didn’t really seem to be able to decipher his love for the game or his dependency on it.

  22. I don’t have any issue with players deciding to retire because they’re worried about their mental health.

    My comment regarding “a brain disease we know very little about” is about the folly of a guy like Chris Borland retiring and getting up on his high horse as though he is some sort of intelligent pioneer.

    We know that CTE relates to repeated head trauma. What we don’t know about it could fill a medical journal. How does Tyler Sash, who made a grand total of 17 NFL tackles have the same severity of CTE as Junior Seau who had over 1,500 NFL tackles?

    Which begs the question, what if CTE is something you develop in college and the severity of your CTE is determined by nothing more than your own personal biology? What if we find out later that someone like Chris Borland, by now, would already have CTE if he was ever going to get it? In that case, would you rather have made $375,000 in the profession responsible for your brain injury or maybe as much as $100 million (if he had developed into a great All-Pro linebacker with a long career)? It seems to me like sticking around and making your millions puts you and your family at a much more advantaged position should you become afflicted with CTE.

    The bottom line is that Chris Borland made an uninformed decision. Was it honorable considering the possible negative outcomes? Of course. Should he be heralded as some sort of pioneer — someone who should be emulated? I don’t think so. I don’t think, given the risk/reward scenario here, that quitting the profession is a rational decision at this point in time. We don’t know enough about it to call it rational.

    Many professions that pay a whole lot less than NFL football carry with them sincere and significant health risks. There are obvious professions like the military where they get paid relative peanuts for arguably far greater risk, all the way down to the desk jobs that many of us have which are increasingly being tied to heart disease for the simple fact of sitting and being sedentary all day (whether you then go home and exercise or not).

    Risk is inherent in almost everything we do. Borland decided the reward was not worth the risk for football. I disagree with him but hey, that’s his journey. He can join the masses in the heart disease world now and make a lot less money doing it.

  23. igornathanhiggers says:
    Apr 5, 2016 8:44 AM

    Can we just get on with this…Its obvious liberals want this game to banned or converted to flag…

    NFL owners are collectively viewed as wealthy big business cats and Liberals hate those types in General….

    Stop beating around the bush…man up and just do what we all know is going to happen… NFL converted to Flag and owners paying through the nose to fund Obama care…

    Huh?

  24. Read somewhere last week that they were about 10 years away from figuring out how to test for CTE on a living brain. When that tech becomes available, everything changes.

  25. The archetypal mental profile of NFL fanboys on flaming neon display here in this thread…. “Me think Borland a quitter and sissy. Blame liberals for talking about science of this.” It’s liking walking into a museum exhibit of living angry-frightened neanderthal men who are banging on their chests and throwing rocks and tree stumps at anything that moves.

  26. roddoliver says:
    Apr 5, 2016 10:32 AM

    “nhpats says:
    Apr 5, 2016 9:08 AM

    They could either retire early or get “their wives” to seek anti-aging shipments from the Guyer institute.”

    Why must Pats fans accuse everyone else of cheating to justify their own cheating ways?
    ______________________________

    Why do Hater fans of the other 31 make note of NE fans pointing out that many other teams cheat via PEDs, warming balls on the sidelines, adderall, repeated Salary violations, filming from the wrong spot on the field?

    Simple.
    To try (and Fail) to single out the MOST SUCCESFUL MODERN NFL FRANCHISE and deflect from the fact that all teams cheat in one way or another.
    Some, as blatantly and overtly as having controlled substances shipped across state lines under the ruse of their wives needing it?

    Still waiting on the investigation Fraudger

  27. “The bottom line is that Chris Borland made an uninformed decision.”

    Hardly. He made what he thought was the best decision for him personally, taking into consideration the information that he has available to him.

  28. drfeelyouup says:
    Apr 5, 2016 6:20 AM
    Some players are actually good and aren’t sissies.

    ———————————————–

    I am willing to bet that anyone who call a person that played football at a high enough level in high school to get a scholarship to the University Of Wisconsin, and then well enough there to get drafted in the 3rd round by an NFL a team a “sissy” is mostly likely a 300 LB slug that lives in with their parents.

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