Chris Borland was set to take Patrick Willis’ place when the San Francisco 49ers linebacker retired on March 10, but instead he’ll retire himself.
The 24-year-old, who had just one NFL season under his belt, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Monday that concussion concerns are the reason for the abrupt end to his promising career. Borland said he talked it over with researchers and family members before coming to a decision.
“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland said, per CBS Sports. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”
Borland said that while he’s not currently feeling the effects of head trauma, he doesn’t think he should wait until he does.
“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive,” Borland 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.”
The Wisconsin product recorded 108 tackles and one sack in 14 games in his rookie season, but Borland said his health trumped the success he enjoyed in 2014.
“I’ve thought about what I could accomplish in football, but for me personally, when you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories and to be the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that as a person I don’t want to take on,” Borland said.
Borland suffered a concussion during this season’s training camp, and he chose to play through it.
Niners general manager Trent Baalke responded to the news Monday night.
“While unexpected, we certainly respect Chris’ decision,” Baalke said, via the team’s website. “From speaking with Chris, it was evident that he had put a great deal of thought into this decision. He was a consummate professional from day one and a very well respected member of our team and community. Chris is a determined young man that overcame long odds in his journey to the NFL and we are confident he will use the same approach to become very successful in his future endeavors. We will always consider him a 49er and wish him all the best.”
Thumbnail photo via Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Images
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