The hits keep coming for the San Francisco 49ers. According to a report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, linebacker Chris Borland notified the team that is planning to retire from the National Football League due to concerns over the long-term impact of repeated head trauma.
Borland, a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, joins Patrick Willis as a key member of San Francisco’s roster to hang his cleats up over the past week. Replacing Willis as a rookie last season, Borland recorded 107 tackles and two sacks in 14 games (eight starts).
He joins Jake Locker, Jason Worilds and the aforementioned Willis as players under the age of 30 that have retired since the start of the new league year last Tuesday.
It’s a stunning bit of news for a 49ers’ team that simply can’t catch a break this offseason. It also adds yet another level to concerns that players may end up hanging up their cleats rather early in their careers due to concerns over long-term health.
Borland had this to say about his decision:
I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told “Outside the Lines.” “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.
I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive,” said Borland. “I’m concerned that if you wait till 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.
No one can blame a player for stepping away from the game in order to avoid long-term health issues. Considering that Borland is retiring after just one season, this has to be of concern to the league office in New York City. If this becomes a widespread issue, the product we see on the field will be impacted a great deal.
Photo: USA Today