Julius Thomas made two Pro Bowls and $29 million in his seven-year NFL career, but the free agent tight end has a bigger pursuit in mind in his second career.
Thomas announced in a post on The Players’ Tribune he is retiring to pursue a doctorate in psychology.
“While making the decision to no longer play the game is difficult, I’m also incredibly excited about what’s next,” Thomas wrote. “Studying therapy and becoming well trained in it, so that I can help people heal from their emotional and mental pain; investigating the effects of contact sports on brain trauma and neurobehavioral performance; and participating in research looking at biomarkers that may identify early warning signs of brain disease.
“These are the things I’ll be learning and working on over the next year as I begin to pursue a doctorate in psychology.”
Studying the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy issue (CTE) as a former football player intrigues Thomas the most.
“Football has serious cognitive risks, but there’s still a lot to learn about the extent of them and ways they can be mitigated,” Thomas wrote. “The ability to assist with the latest research being done on brain trauma and the pursuit to better understand CTE. To study it not just from the perspective of a psychologist or a clinician, but also as a person who has played for several years at the highest level, is something that excites me. It fills me with a sense of purpose. It’s a way to help while growing intellectually that I had been searching for. I know I have so much to learn, but that’s what I’m most looking forward to.”
Thomas, 30, caught 226 passes for 2,406 yards and 36 touchdowns. He scored 12 touchdowns in both 2012 and 2013. Thomas played four seasons in Denver, two in Jacksonville and last season in Miami.