Chris Borland led the 49ers in tackles last year – 128 (that’s 8 per game). He was a rising star in the NFL. At times he was out-shined by Patrick Willis (now retired), but he was a potent defender on a defense that two seasons ago had a tough reputation.
Borland said via a report in the Washington Post, “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,…From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk … I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive. I’m concerned that if you wait ’til 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.”
That’s a strong and potent statement; hits you like…well, an unblocked blitz.
Borland just did something unheard of. He’s not the first, there have been a number of other professional athlete who walked away from it all for health reasons. Writer Jack Moore at Vice Sports has a very strong article on the history of athletes retiring in their prime. Moore wrote, ” In 1969, Cardinals linebacker Dave Meggyesy retired following his age 29 season and was a vocal opponent of the NFL.” In Moore’s article, he explains that Meggyesy crusaded against violent sports in his autobiography, Out of Their League. If you like Vice Sport’s style, then also check out this companion piece on Chris Borland written by Jorge Arangure Jr.
But Borland’s decision to retire at only 25 years old and after just barely making $1 million in football salary is compelling. Our society is steeped in objectively gaining ground and making money. Retiring feels like the antithesis of what our society values.
Borland is a brave man. He’s putting his health and future before his wallet. Not many people would do this.
Saints Running Back Mark Ingram said in a report published by TMZ Sports he respected Borland’s decision to retire but he loved football too much to retire.
Ingram continued, “It takes a big man to step away from your dreams and aspirations,” Ingram said of Borland … “but it’s a real issue and real concern. So I respect him and wish him the best of luck.”
Borland’s retirement follows a list of recent retirements by other NFL Players – notably 49er Linebacker Patrick Willis.
But Borland has made a statement that is resonating louder each time you think about. He’s walking away. He isn’t getting carted off the field. He isn’t giving a thumbs up from the back of an all-wheel drive vehicle, as the prayer circles of his fellow players break up and the fans in the stands give him a round of applause. There was no breathless moments where his legs and the backsides of the training staff were the most compelling thing on your television. He’s walking away. He’s hoping he doesn’t end of like Jim McMahon – he suffers brutal headaches and memory loss that is sobering. McMahon confessed to HBO “Real Sports” that he considered suicide due to his neurological injuries.
Here’s the video is you don’t believe me.
Unfortunately, Borland’s statement is going to get muted rather quickly. Because money talks, and we listen when it does.
Ratings are higher than they have ever been for NFL Football games. Admit it, you watch every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night. I do.
Fantasy Football is a cash cow. We all know that. But it wouldn’t have any traction without the guys, like Borland, sacrificing themselves.
But more-over, the National Non-Profit Football League just signed a $12 billion, eight-year broadcasting deal with DirecTV. I’m not going to shed a tear for Roger Goodell – he sleeps on a mountain of cash and probably has a money bin that we swims in like Scrooge McDuck.
So, thanks for letting me get this serious piece out of my system. I felt like I needed to toss my two-cents on to the pile. Borland you’re a class act in my eyes; good health to you. I just hope we, as sports fans, don’t forget what happens after the plays are called and the whistle blows.
Till next time, know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em and follow me @Deepdfspicks.