While some players may say they’re willing to die on the field (until they realize what that sounded like), other NFL players are taking a more sober approach to their futures.
And Cardinals right tackle Jared Veldheer admitted that last week’s CTE study — in which the degenerative brain disease was found in 110 of the 111 donated brains of former NFL players — gave him pause.
Veldheer told the Arizona Republic that he took a personal day away from the team last week to think about his own future, and that he might have considered retirement.
“There was some stuff going on and I was just trying to process it all,” Veldheer said. “It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is scary.’ I wasn’t going to, . . . It was more complicated than that. Everyone kind of would like to know more about [CTE] just because that kind of stuff has only been brought up in the last five years or so really and there’s just a lot of stuff they need to do research-wise.
“So a lot of people are kind of in the dark right now and that part may concern some people, but at the same time there’s new helmet companies out and they’re trying to make it so those big helmet-to-helmet collisions aren’t as prevalent.”
The timing of the day off was no coincidence, coming the same day Ravens center John Urschel announced his retirement at age 26. With veteran tackles Branden Albert and Ryan Clady announcing their retirements (for whatever reasons), there’s some degree of contemplation in the air for many players.
Veldheer returned to practice Friday with what he called: “A lot of clarity.”
“It was culmination of things, kind of missing the last half of the season last year [with triceps and finger injuries] and just kind of rehabbing. You start thinking when you have a lot of time on your plate,” Veldheer said. “You start thinking huge-picture life stuff, you know? You normally don’t necessarily think you’re going to die.
“So you’re just trying to figure everything out. Stuff just all kind of happened and compounded and I just kind of needed a second to regroup and reflect.”
As many players have, he’s made the choice to continue. He has two years left on his deal with the Cardinals, and is set to make $6.5 million this year.