New York Giants offensive tackle Matt Gono will likely have to walk away from the NFL at the age of 26 due to a career-ending neck injury.
Gono, a 6-foot-4 offensive tackle, entered the league out of Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. After becoming one of the top college football players in Division III, Gono signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent.
Related: New York Giants schedule
He later earned a spot on the Falcons’ 53-man roster, playing in five games during the 2019 season. By age 24, Gono became a prominent part of the Falcons’ offensive line, appearing in all 16 games and making four starts.
Unfortunately, an injury suffered in 2021 will likely be what derailed Gono’s NFL career. He required neck surgery, forcing him to miss all of last season. Hoping to return without any setbacks, he signed with the Giants this spring and there was optimism heading into training camp.
Unfortunately, he experienced issues just days into camp. Once New York held its fully-padded practices with players ramping up with collisions and live drills, Gono reportedly started experiencing troubling symptoms in his neck.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Gono visited the doctor who performed his neck surgery and the belief is that the issue is serious enough to end his NFL career.
While the Giants will have the veteran offensive linemen undergo further testing before a final determination is made, he was placed on the exempt/left squad designation list earlier this week. As of now, it is expected that he will have to retire.
If not for the injury, Raanan notes that Gono would have had a realistic shot at becoming the Giants’ swing tackle this year. While a long NFL career was likely ahead of him, the physical nature of the game and this freak occurrence will now push him in a new direction.