Being a professional athlete is a dream for many. The idea that after a year in the sport, an athlete would walk away from the game and leave millions on the table doesn’t make sense to many. But that’s what San Francisco 49’ers linebacker Chris Borland has decided after playing professionally for just one year.
Borland was one of the NFL’s top rookies last season, but has decided to walk away from the game over health concerns. The 24-year-old told “Outside the Lines” Monday that he is retiring because of concerns about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.
Borland notified the 49ers on Friday. He said he made his decision after consulting with family members, concussion researchers, friends and current and former teammates, and studying what is known about the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.
“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive,” said Borland. “I’m concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it’s too late. … There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”
The NFL doesn’t extend health benefits to its retired players. I applaud his decision to put his health and quality of life first.