By Frank Costagliola
“Game on!” is a bi-weekly column written by Frank covering various topics within the sports realm and how it is affecting athletes, fans and more.
NFL players understand the impact playing football has on their bodies.
The number of NFL players who are retiring under the age of 31 is no longer an oddity as they have tripled over the past five years.
Last offseason notable NFL players decided to call it quits a young age. 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, who was a part of an elite defense during his tenure in San Francisco, retired at the age of 30. In addition to WIllis’ retirement other notable players such as Jake Locker, Chris Borland, and Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds have too decided to throw in the towel.
“As many players that do consider perhaps the long-term risks and the cost benefits of a long-term career in a contact sport, you’re going to get that,” said sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray. “We’ve had more education and increased awareness from many avenues about the risks of concussions long term, the risks of the effects of that.”
If anything, this offseason has shown that players retiring a younger age is no longer a phenomenon, but instead a trend. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch announced his retirement on social media during Super Bowl 50 as well. While Lynch was battling injuries that kept him sidelined for most of the season, he still managed to average 3.8 yards per carry in the limited attempts he got. Then Patriots linebacker and two time Pro-Bowler Jerod Mayo also announced also at the age of 29.
Of all the players to call it quits early this off season, no other was more compelling than superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The Detroit Lion receiver has been an elite receiver over the past decade and ranks among some of the greatest wide receivers all time. He also helped the Detroit Lions make the playoffs after suffering a 12 year playoff appearance drought.
What we are now seeing in the NFL is players are taking their health into consideration. Some athletes are weighing their options and want to live long lives after their playing days are over.
While Borland has been the only player in this article to admit he quit due to concussions and CTE concerns, many football players are taking into consideration the risks that come along with playing a high contact sport like football.
“When people in your chosen profession shoot themselves in the chest, it causes you to be taken aback,” Borland told ESPN. “Again, you may be able to play for a long time and be healthy, but it caused me to pause and think.”