Chris Borland retires after one season over head injury concerns
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland is retiring from football after just one season due to concerns about the long-term effects of head trauma.
Borland, 24, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Monday that he made the decision after consulting with family members, friends, concussion researchers and current and former teammates. The former Wisconsin star also studied information on the relationship between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland said. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”
Borland said he feels perfectly healthy now but did not want to wait until he started feeling symptoms to make his decision.
“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been. For me, it’s wanting to be proactive,” he said. “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.”
Borland admitted that he played through a concussion during training camp because he was trying to impress his coaches and make the team. He said he began evaluating his career path at that moment.
“I just thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and know about the dangers?'” he explained.
From a football standpoint, Borland’s retirement is horrible news for the Niners. Borland finished fourth in the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after an outstanding season in which he recorded 107 tackles and intercepted two passes. His emergence contributed to Ahmad Brooks butting heads with San Francisco coaches. Borland’s play also made the 49ers less concerned about losing perennial Pro Bowler Patrick Willis, who also retired.
Borland’s decision to quit football is certainly alarming for the NFL, though at least one team executive believes anyone who is concerned about the future of the sport is overreacting.
Chris Borland's case aside, Packers exec says he sees no widespread trend of players acting on head trauma risk. pic.twitter.com/aJUIcCJADK
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) March 17, 2015
CTE has been linked to more than one traumatic ending of a life in the past few years. The concerns about head trauma are real, and anyone who faults Borland for his decision is simply ignorant.