Tim Ryan unfairly attacked for Chris Borland comments


The news that Chris Borland is retiring from the NFL at the age of 24 has dominated the football conversation today, and it’s led to some thoughtful discussions about the risks and rewards of playing the game. But it’s also led to some nasty attacks and petty insults from those who live to find something to be outraged about.

No one has taken more unfair criticism today than Tim Ryan, the former NFL player who has been ripped apart for comments he made about Borland on KNBR in San Francisco. Multiple websites have reported that Ryan called Borland a “quitter,” and people on Twitter are calling for the 49ers to fire Ryan from his job as an analyst for the team’s preseason games.

One problem: Ryan never called Borland a “quitter.” And Ryan praised Borland repeatedly during his interview on KNBR. You can listen to the full interview right here, or just read some of these things Ryan said about Borland:

“Big props to Chris. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. The selfish side of me is pissed that the 49ers are losing another quality player. . . . Chris was and still is fantastic.”

“The risk isn’t worth the reward for some guys. You may call that superior intelligence because I never would have made that decision, but that cat [Borland] has got a little more intelligence than I do.”

“More power to him, man. Smart guy, gonna have a great life.”

Everyone who wants to find something to be outraged about, however, is ignoring all those things Ryan said and focusing instead on Ryan’s use of the word “quit.” (Ryan did not use the word “quitter” to describe Borland, even though many people have wrongly attributed that word to him.) It’s important to listen to the full context of Ryan’s use of the word “quit.”

Ryan used that word only when asked to compare Borland to fellow 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, who also retired this offseason. Ryan prefaced his statement by talking about how much he loves Borland, and then said that he sees a distinction between choosing to “quit” and choosing to “retire.” In Ryan’s view, the word “retire” — in football or any other field — is reserved for people who have had a long, sustained career, whereas the word “quit” is generally used to mean a person who leaves a job after a short time. Ryan wasn’t knocking Borland, he was merely saying that what Borland is doing is fundamentally different from what Willis did.

Ryan’s exact words were, “This isn’t punitive on Borland, and I love the guy and I want to see him play. Patrick Willis retired. Chris Borland quit.”

It’s a lot more fun to attack Ryan for calling Borland a quitter than it is to point out that Ryan never actually called Borland a quitter and said “I love the guy” before pointing out that “quit” and “retire” mean two different things. Look up the two words in the dictionary and you’ll see that Ryan is correct — the word “retire” means to withdraw from a job “usually because of age.”

At this point, you might be thinking that I’m defending Ryan only because he’s a fellow member of the NFL media, and we all stick together. Well, you’d be wrong. I have only had one personal encounter with Ryan in my life, and that came when he and I butted heads because I criticized him for leaving Calvin Johnson off his All-Pro team in 2012. I have no brief for Ryan.

But I am in favor of fairness and accuracy. Ryan deserves that, and he hasn’t received it.

113 responses to “Tim Ryan unfairly attacked for Chris Borland comments

  1. Tim Ryan is a big time homer 49er fan. Hes always trying to make excuses and look at bright side of bad situations all the time for the 49ers. Actually to a fault. Its like come on Bro, really, just call it as it is. So those calling him out have no idea what they are talking about.

  2. I have heard the interview live and its a BS to rip Ryan.

    I understand that fellow Niner fans are stressed out about whats happening this offseason but that’s no reason to go after either Borland or Ryan.

  3. I don’t see the problem with saying he is a quitter. He decided the team wasn’t as important even though they depended on him and gave him a signing bonus upfront.

  4. All the respect for Borland for thinking about his health. This whole thing us blown out of proportion. Borland made the decision for him all I know is if I ever had half the talent to play in the NFL I’d never give it up, like many people would. Tgat was all Ryan us saying. Borland did quit but it was justified for his health. Ryan didn’t bash him.

  5. Not a surprise that people misconstrued what he said, the American public’s listening/reading comprehension skills is that of a one year old.

  6. Doesn’t matter if he said he quit or called him a quitter. He did quit, so by definition, he is a quitter. Why all the debate over semantics?

  7. Imagine that, seeing the evidence before you do something stupid. Will someone please send this transcript to Roger.

  8. Why is everyone always looking for something to be outraged about? Good grief. I need to move to a cabin up north and leave this stupid society behind.

  9. What’s worse he knew he was going to quit all season long according to his family. He just lead the hapless 49’s along. If he was such a good guy he could have told them after the 49’s season was over.

  10. I don’t understand. He left his job right and contract he signed prematurely correct? Whether you personally find the reason valid or not is of no importance. He is a “quitter” because he quit his job. What’s the problem?

  11. People live on conflict and the media drives a conflict driven agenda. Factor that in with the way we live our lives behind a screen and keyboard it is easy to see things like this happen. We are so driven to engage in any conflict and spew hate. It is driven from the media, news, tv, and internet that invades our lives.

  12. This is the Internet.

    Did we expect anything less from the majority of self-righteous ignoramuses who enjoy the mob mentality and avoid, then ignore, the facts?

  13. He was drafted in the 3rd round, knew enough to let his friends family and inner circle know his heart wasn’t in football anymore and might be one and done.Doesn’t alert 49ers management to his feelings.
    Waits 3 weeks after free agency starts and then announces he’s done playing football.

    Yeah he quit.

    not that’s anything wrong with that.

  14. Little bit of a confusing message from Ryan. By saying Borland quit, after the positives he said about Borland is a little perplexing.

    People will remember the quit part of his comment more than his positive comments.

    Leave the quit part out of it, then he wouldnt be catching heat

  15. You’re also going to be exposed to criticism for those opinions. I don’t see your point.

  16. I agree with Ryan. Broland quit, he didn’t retire. That’s not a negative, it’s just a fact.

    Quitting something doesn’t make you a ‘quitter’ but ceasing your employment after fewer than 12 months doesn’t make you ‘retired’ either.

  17. Borland did quit. Just like Ricky Williams quit at one time. It’s not a bad thing. Being in the NFL isn’t a dream job for every single player in history. It’s no different than quitting an office job, or as a server. If your heart is not in it, then quit. Millions of people do it all the time. He’s basically leaving one job for another that he’s see fit. How many of us have done that? Why do sports have to be any different than us working in the “real world”? D

  18. milam27 says:
    Mar 17, 2015 2:23 PM
    People forget we live in America and are free to have our own opinions


    that’s true, but that doesn’t entitle anyone to be free from criticism for expressing it.

    That said, I think this response re: tim ryan is excellent. especially the comment that about some “who live to find something to be outraged about.”

  19. Are people that sensitive now they can’t accept that Chris Borland quit? Has anyone else never left a job voluntarily on your own terms? It’s called quitting. It not disrespectful to state facts. He wasn’t putting him down for doing so?

  20. mdd913 says:
    Mar 17, 2015 2:27 PM

    Most people are stupid and do not know how to properly comprehend what they read and hear. This is nothing new.
    The most correct comment I have ever read on this or any other website.

  21. I am not saying one way or the other but he did call him quitter. i don’t know how you can argue that. He may have also said nice things about him. But he did call him a quiter.

  22. I worked at mcdonalds for a year in high school before moving to pursue other jobs. I don’t say I retired from mcdonalds. Quit may not be the best term, left sounds better

  23. The NFL isn’t a requirement. If Borland feels he’s better off not having his brain sloshing around in his skull every week, and he wants to remember what he did the day before, power to him.

  24. “It’s a lot more fun to attack Ryan for calling Borland a quitter than it is to point out that Ryan never actually called Borland a quitter and said “I love the guy” before pointing out that “quit” and “retire” mean two different things.”

    Pfft. I take “I love the guy” to be like “No offense” or “All due respect”. If he loved the guy, then there’s NO reason to even discuss Willis–or if he was brought up by someone else, there’s no reason to purposely look to draw a distinction between the 2.

  25. NFL football is great for guys who have a screw loose, adrenaline junkies, or guys who have no other options. Running into world class athletes day after day in practice and games is not a good idea.

  26. Now if Kaepernick could only EXIT the NFL , leaving Gabbert behind center, the Singletary moon would be shining bright..

  27. “But it’s also led to some nasty attacks and petty insults from those who live to find something to be outraged about.”

    Good thing we commentators on Pro Football Talk never ourselves to such barbaric standards.

  28. slugbaitspace says:
    Mar 17, 2015 2:32 PM
    This is the Internet.

    Did we expect anything less from the majority of self-righteous ignoramuses who enjoy the mob mentality and avoid, then ignore, the facts?


    Sounds like a lot of the people who make comments on PFT.

  29. Why do we care about a guy who quits his job because of health reasons? I quit my fast food job when I couldnt eat the food anymore.

  30. Oh great, I see the comments have turned this into another “How dare someone criticize someone for having an opinion”.

    As if Ryan is supposed to be allowed to have an opinion (he is) but then no one else is allowed to have their own opinion, which may include criticizing Ryan’s. Jeesh.

  31. People love to be “outraged”. Don’t believe me? Just read ANY comment section on ANY article on PFT. 😀

  32. Political correctness is killing this country. We’ve become a society of thought police. It used to be that freedom of speech meant people were free to say what they thought, and if you didn’t like it maybe you didn’t do business with them or join their group etc.

    Now all it takes is one word that’s misperceived and the internet lynch mob comes out full force like they saw someone murdered in front of 1000 people.

    The worst part is that there are many people in the world who take advantage of political correctness to gain an advantage for themselves, but will never give that same respect and correctness back to those who disagree with them.

  33. I did my homework. I have studied the statistics. #4 cause of death in the US after Heart Disease, Cancer, and Lung Disease is accidents – primarily car. Time to stop driving.

  34. The issue here isn’t whether Borland’s a quitter or not. I’m sure most of us wanted him to inherit Willis’ position and our defense keeps on truckin’. But, when matters of one’s physical and mental health are on the table, all bets are off. Chris made a conscious decision I’m sure didn’t come easily…he knew he might have a brilliant NFL career, but he also knew he might end up with permanent health issues. I respect his decision…because it’s a personal one.

  35. If he quit, then he’s a quitter. He might have had a good reason to quit…but probably not really. He’ll be selling used cars for 25K a year most likely. Or managing a taco bell.

    He should have stuck it out a few more years and left with at least a million or so in the bank.

  36. Quitting would be more like what the Packers did in their poor NFC championship performance against Seattle this year

  37. That’s what Social Media is. An opportunity for people to express faux moral outrage and pile on. That’s why Twitter is a joke. Just an outlet for unintelligent people to share that information with the world.

  38. As a member of the American public, I demand my right to loudly express my knee-jerk reactions to anything at any time, based on half-truths, misunderstandings and misinformation!!

  39. Tim Ryan is one of the authentic, genuine, stand-up guys in the world of sports media. The end.

  40. Man I hope Chip Kelly does something wacky today so we can get off this subject

  41. Wow the media having a problem with something being said about them? Maybe they should think about that when they are writing about others.

  42. Ryan’s exact words were,

    “This isn’t punitive on Borland, and I love the guy and I want to see him play. Patrick Willis retired. Chris Borland quit.”

    Ryan the same as implied Borland was a “quitter”

    Ryan, guilty as charged.

  43. beakersf says:
    Mar 17, 2015 2:52 PM

    By that age specific definition Willis quit also.

    What’s the average length of career for his position and what’s the average age of people that play that position?

  44. It is sad and pathetic that our culture, particularly the young are so brainwashed by political correctness that they are now afraid of properly used words.

    Borland quit. He is the definition of quitting. He is physically able. He has a contract, and his employer wants him back.

    Whether you view his quitting positively or negatively is up to you, but it’s insane to attack somebody for properly using the word quit. It is part of the disturbing trend of trying to shout down anybody who does not follow the politically correct line.

  45. Fluff piece…Willis ain’t old, so your defense of Ryan’s word choice is crap.

    Its like when Ricky Bobby would preface an insult by saying “with all due respect”.

  46. He quit. The word “quitter” is an insult in this country. It means loser/whiner/can’t take the heat, whatever.

    But there’s no argument that he quit. There can’t be.

    Is he a “quitter”? By one definition, yes. Is he the insulting usage of the word? Depends on your point of view.

  47. I’d more categorize Borland as retired, if he has no plans on coming back to the business.

    But why is it wrong to say Borland quit?
    He did. By definition.

    leave (a place or job), usually permanently.

    He did file retirement papers, but he also quit a job that he was physically, mentally and skill-wise able to continue to perform.

    Lighten up, America.

  48. After thinking about this another few minutes I’m amazed the people criticizing Ryan even had time to do so. I would think they’d be too busy trying to get the NFL to eliminate scoring and give out 32 Lombardis every year because when a team loses it “makes their fans feel bad”

  49. Willis quit on his contract too. He was under contract. He can’t just up and leave. He QUIT.

    Now is he a “quitter”? Well, given the years he put in and the pain he endured, most people wouldn’t use that word.

    Borland…well, I think what he did is foolish. Play your contract out, leave with 2M in the bank and then decide what to do with your life.

    Now he’s going to do what? Sell shoes?

  50. What’s with the sainting of Borland?

    The dude made a self-conscious decision for his own health. I can see how those that are of the team-first mentality like Ryan would classify that as quitting, not retiring.

    But come on people.

    Nothing to see here. Thousands of guys wash out from the NFL each year, what’s one more?

  51. It’s apparent there’s a disconnect/misunderstanding here. After less than 1 year in the NFL, will Borland be receiving retirement payments or a pension from the NFLPA? I seriously doubt it…but if so, he retired. If not, then he quit, is a quitter, left, moved on or whatever the he!! else you want to call it.

  52. WHO cares..one guy quits says he’s “concerned” about his health = scared…there’s still 2500 or so people still playing and will continue to play. Move on already. It’s not like Dick Butkus just quit or something.

  53. To illustrate just how crazy political correctness has become, look no further than the fact that the PC crowd does not want the word Quit used, but they are fine with calling Borland “Brave” for this decision.

    He fits the definition of quit. He does not fit the definition of brave.

    But calling him brave supports the agenda so that’s what matters, not accuracy, not reality.

    I don’t care if he plays or not. But the kid made a decision based on fear of something that may never happen. I’m not going to ignore reality and pretend like he’s the Rosa Parks of head injuries when he himself has said he’s had no head injuries in college or the NFL.

  54. Ryan sees it exactly the same way I do. You don’t retire after less than a calendar year. That’s called quitting. I don’t say his reason is wrong, just that his tenure in the job prevents it from being a true retirement. The league will classify it as a retirement so that he can be placed on the appropriate list and the 49ers can retain his rights if he chooses to return.

  55. Not surprised that Bay area people are calling for someone’s job when that person says something not approved. If America’s activism community had a downtown, San Francisco would be it.

    The only surprising thing is someone in the media trying to extinguish the flames rather than fanning them.

  56. Whether he quit or not really is not important. You are free in this Country to do as you please. May he regret this choice down the road, probably. I just get tired about reading about the “dangers.” Police Officers, firefighters and others step into a uniform and face a lot more dangers everyday for a lot less money. I would rather take my chances playing in the NFL and making a ton of money then stepping out not knowing if I will come home or ever see my family again. Either way, leave the kid alone

  57. Tim Ryan is a class individual. I listened to him for several years on Sirius NFL Radio and the guy knows his stuff! I cannot see him bashing a buy like Borland. He might not agree with the guy but he would never insult him by calling him a “quitter.”

  58. Great, because in life, it is SOOOO IMPORTANT to note what the trolls on Twitter and social media say. Good god, this whole mess is nothing short of pathetic. If anyone is so ignorant as to fire Tim Ryan because of a some loud mouths on social media, he did not have a job worth having. I mean, imagine being at the mercy of the ilk of morons who scream on Twitter populate comments on pages like these??? If there is something more menial or pathetic than that, I would like to hear it.

  59. Unfortunately for Mr Ryan, the Internet is now being controlled by the “perpetually outraged”. Nothing but a bunch of brain dead losers that give their uninformed opinion on EVERYTHING before checking the facts.
    That’s what we have wrought. Really sad.

  60. Why is this guy (Borland) leaving his job such a big deal? People leave there jobs everyday. This has become such a talking point because sports followers think because they buy a jersey and paint there faces to match a teams colors that they somehow are envolved with that organization. Well news flash folks, because you sit in front of your TV’s and watch a a game doesn’t give you jack…It’s a game period nothing more nothing less. The reason these guys make what they do is because you blindly buy season tickets or watch 6 games a week. The guys making the money could care less about you…

  61. Tim Ryan was attacked appropriately. It’s obvious he like most fans never played football. Quitters quit on the field. The kid that wants to be able to remember his mom’s name in a few years didn’t.

    There are plenty of players that never became anything and never quit that built this league. There are also plenty that had career ending injuries in their first seasons or preseasons that never had a chance to contribute. Ryan stood by the “You earn the right to leave!” mantra. He doesn’t know what earning it means because he never played football.

    I give the kid credit for not falling into the trap of “If I can just make it a few years without another head injury, I can sign that big free agent contract!”

    He was a 3rd round pick and never got big money and will give 3/4 of that back to keep his head on straight.

    Josh Gordan misses all of next year because weed and cough syrup are more important to him than football and continues to say he is upset because his teammates don’t support his stupidity for the 20th time making a mistake. If you’d like an example of a quitter he’s a perfect candidate. Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, hell I’d call Barry Sanders a quitter before this kid.

    I give the reporter some slack because it’s the last retirement in a long list at SF and he’s obviously upset, but he figured as a reporter he had a right to judge. He doesn’t. Especially in a world where a slime-ball like Suh makes 100 million dollars. He’s an equal to Stephen A Smith counting black guys cut and calling the lunatic Chip Kelly a racist. Black guys getting replaced by black guys don’t count in Smith’s world. Unfounded attacks based on not knowing what you are talking about, are what reporters do on a slow news day. Kelly is a racist! If you didn’t play for Oregon, he doesn’t want you.

  62. Im not surprised anymore with some of the imuture comments some people make. People who are talking trash about ryan or borland wouldnt say it to thier face. Unless your in that group of caveman mentality thinking you can beat anybody up. Chris did what he felt was rite for his duture ,let someone question a big change you mite have to make someday your not going to want to here people calling you names. Someone mentiond yea hes not even thinking about the team giving him a shot to play in the pros and also abouta bonus , well to you numbnuts go ahead a take a chance with your life for that bonus and forthe team idiots.

  63. When I first read about it from other sources, I was little perturbed about Ryan’s comments until I read the whole thing. MDS is absolutely correct about people jumping to conclusions. That said, Ryan ought to choose his words a little more carefully to avoid confusion and being misinterpreted. He’s not doing the typical spin job backtrack by attacking the attackers when he’s clearly wrong. In this instance, the attackers are wrong.

  64. Society is not mature enough to use social media…no responsibility/accountability when you’re behind a keyboard yapping away.

  65. Stating someone quit and respecting their decision to do so are not mutually exclusive. Chris quit and I respect that the decision was his and his alone to make. Why the fake outrage over what Tim Ryan said?

  66. The stupidity around this is a microcosm of what is wrong with this country… Everybody get a grip… Kinda funny though… Mass hypnosis of hysteria predispositions running wild…

  67. Sarah Palin never said, “I can see Russia from my house.” but everyone thinks she did. Here they are saying Tim Ryan called Borland a quitter when actually he just said he quit.

    Idiots will turn everything around if you give them enough time.

  68. It’s like what Al Pacino said in Heat, “You get killed walkin your doggie!” Good luck to Chris, I hope he lives a long healthy life but tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

  69. Really sorry to hear that happened to him, hopefully he can shrug off the unfair negativity and keep doing a great job. Don’t sweat it Tim Ryan and have yourself a great day!

  70. No, he called him a quitter. He said he quit, which makes one a quitter. Because when Willis didn’t want to play, he said Willis retired. What’s the difference?

  71. I like Tim Ryan. Listen to him on Sirius all the time. Smart dude. Sad he’s leaving “Moving the Chains”

  72. At least Borland made his decision during off season instead of walking out of camp or walking off the team during the regular season.

    Everything about this decision looks like it was carefully considered. Like the customary two-week notice, he bowed out before his team finished with their FA activities and before they finalized their plans for the draft. So now they can plan accordingly.

  73. milam27 says:
    Mar 17, 2015 2:23 PM
    People forget we live in America and are free to have our own opinions

    Amen Brotha

  74. When you use the work quit in the football world it’s not a compliment, and Ryan knows that. When you use quit in the smokers world, it’s a good thing.

  75. Leave the 49ers fans alone, let them lash out at something, I mean look at what happened to their team in 4yrs….once a SB contender and now they will be lucky to fight for a playoff spot….He did quit and there is nothing wrong with why he quit….

  76. The only thing I disagree with Ryan on is I don’t see a distinction between choosing to quit and choosing to retire. Willis quit/retired after 8 years, Borland after 1. It’s the same thing.

  77. Really? I mean really? You don’t expect people to actually listen to what Ryan actually said do you? Why spoil a good chance to rip someone from behind a keyboard by getting facts correct in the first place. Welcome to the modern world where the ability to read and think critically are a lost skill in the rush to judge on social media


  78. Wait, am I reading this correctly? The sports media, who thrive off of asking inane questions day-in and day-out of athletes, only to then go through mental gymnastics to try and take something out of context in an effort to create “controversy” are now upset that some fans are doing exactly that to one of their own beloved sports media types?

    Cry me a river.

  79. It’s better for him, the 49ers, and the NFL that he’s gone. He obviously doesn’t love the game so this is the best thing that could happen. I don’t doubt he has fears but if you love something you put that a side. Its why kids jump down 16 stair gaps to rails on their skateboards for free. Its why, even though the mortality and serious injury rate for motorcycle riders dwarfs those of NFL players, you can’t pry some guys off their bikes. Its why people can sky dive and bungee jump. Theres a thousand more examples where people but their health and sometimes lives on the line simply out of love for what they are doing.

    If you gave these people money to do it it would be like every dream they ever had came true. If you can walk away from that, especially considering the amount of money you would make, because of the fear of health problems in favor of a 9-5. Then it’s not possible imo that you had any real love left for what you were doing anyway.

  80. Yep, people are idiots.

    I would hope, thought, that no respectable company would make a personnel decision based upon the demands of a bunch of anonymous twitter cretins with no skin in the game.

  81. Oh San Fran media acting like jerks (except for Matt Maiocco), I’m shocked.

    I never had a problem with Barry Bonds when he never was good with them and I’ll continue to do so with current and future players.

  82. Borland is a quitter. The 49ers burnt a 3rd round pick on him, they should be furious right now. At least be a man and say before that draft that you only intend to play for a year.

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