The shocking news that 49ers linebacker Chris Borland will retire from the NFL after one season because he’s concerned about concussions was met with surprise throughout the football world. But many players reacted by saying they respected Borland — even as they said they wouldn’t do the same thing.
Dozens of NFL players shared their reactions on Twitter, with most saying that they think Borland is doing the right thing if he no longer believes the rewards of the NFL are worth the risks. At the same time, Borland’s decision to quit after one year is clearly not the decision most players would make.
Borland’s fellow 49ers linebacker Chase Thomas wrote, “Shocked to hear the news about my dude Borland, but I totally understand his decision to retire. Much respect.”
Another 49er, cornerback Tramaine Brock, said, “I understand but still shocked.”
Colts long snapper Matt Overton wrote, “Guys deciding to walk away from the game at a young age is a great reminder to us all that life has a bigger picture. I wish them the best!”
“WOW. I loved Chris Borland’s game but I can’t fault him for calling it quits,” Rams defensive end Chris Long wrote. “His concerns are real. Still it takes a man to do the logical. I don’t feel bad for Borland. I feel happy for him. He’s made a tough choice.”
Said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, “Pleasure playing with you, Chris Borland [at Wisconsin] and against you for the 49ers. Praying for you.”
But while players didn’t criticize Borland’s retirement, they wouldn’t walk away this early themselves.
Said Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, “No offense to anyone but I’m playing until I can’t anymore. I love this game too much.”
Wagner’s opinion is how most players feel: The vast majority of players play until they can’t anymore. But Borland’s decision, along with the retirements of Patrick Willis and Jason Worilds, may show that an increasingly significant number of players would rather walk away too soon instead of too late.