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Sam Cooper, Yahoo:
Long before San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland publicly revealed his retirement from the NFL after just one season, his family was aware that his professional football career could be a short one.

He passed a note to his mom and I after the last preseason game, thinking this would be his last year,” Jeff Borland, Chris’ father, told the San Jose Mercury News. “At the same time, and this is very important, he also expressed he planned to go all out and not hold back whatsoever. He set the loftiest of goals, and he maybe came within an ankle injury of achieving them.”

Jeff Borland said even though he knew he would only play a year, Chris still wanted to prove that he could perform at the highest level. Even after that success, Borland decided the risk associated with playing football was just too much.

One collision with 6-foot-4, 293-pound fullback Will Tukuafu in training camp in 2014 with the San Francisco 49ers changed everything for rookie LB Chris Borland. He said the hit left him feeling like "you're in a fog, like you're not quite yourself." Fearful of not making the 49ers' roster, Chris Borland kept quiet about "getting his bell rung, but realized the future would not be bright if he did this for a living for too long. The letter from training camp to his parents a few days after the violent collision alerted them to the fact that his NFL career could be brief.

The list is quite long for many NFL players who have suffered the effects of concussions and head injuries. For Chris Borland, the most notable case was that of Pro Football Hall of Fame center Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Webster life ended at age 50, struggling with homelessness after a 16 year NFL career. Doctors say he had the equivalent of "25,000 automobile crashes" in over 25 years of playing football.

Harry Carson, Hall of Fame LB for the New York Giants, may have been involved in 14,000 car wrecks in his NFL career. Harry suffers from CTE(Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).

RB Merrill Hoge of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears struggled in retirement in trying to drive his young son to elementary school. His memory loss prevented him from making the two mile trip without major assistance. A former Chicago Bears team physician was ordered to pay former fullback Merril Hoge $1.55 million for failing to warn him about the severity of his concussions, which Hoge said forced him to retire at 29.

Suicides have claimed the lives of former players, Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears and Junior Seau
(San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots). Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs was part of a murder-suicide on December 1, 2012 . Belcher killed his girlfriend, and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium where he took his own life in front of head coach, Romeo Crennel and general manager, Scott Pioli.

Ray Easterling, a former Atlanta Falcons defensive back died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2014. Easterling was a four year starter for the Falcons, including 1977 when the Falcons set an NFL record for the fewest points allowed in a season (129 points).
A.J.Perez, FoxSports:
Easterling was one of more than a thousand players who have sued the NFL over head injuries sustained while playing the game. In a lawsuit filed last August, Easterling's lawyer, Larry Coben, wrote that the league "continuously and vehemently denied that it knew, should have known or believed that there is any relationship between NFL players suffering concussions while playing . . . and long-term problems such as headaches, dizziness, dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease that many retired players have experienced.”

Greg Bedard, MMQB:
Football isn’t going anywhere, certainly not anytime soon. Let’s get that out of the way. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to see the pool of NFL prospects drying up completely. But that pool will shrink, and some players will hang up their cleats much earlier than those of previous generations. That, in part, will be the lasting legacy of Chris Borland, who retired at age 24 despite not missing any time during his rookie season with a concussion or head trauma.

The effects of the Chris Borland retirement have already resonated in the NFL. Denver Broncos' WR Wes Welker is now known as the anti-Chris Borland. Wes faces an uphill battle in continuing his career following numerous concussions. Pro Football Talk reported the receiver has “generated no buzz” on the free-agent market.

The NFL reportedly reached a settlement in 2013 with around 4,500 former players. Chris Borland did not want to be one of those in future settlements.



Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

Follow me on Twitter at @_prmurphy

For more of my articles, click here.




Paul Murphy 3/18/2015 04:24:00 PM Edit
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