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Chris Borland retires due to health concers (1 Viewer)

Slapdash

Footballguy
I know this is being discussed in the 49ers thread, but I feel like it deserves its own topic. Borland is a player who seemed like the next great MLB in college to me. He certainly performed well to date in the NFL.

I have always been a fan of the guys like Zach Thomas, Urlacher, and Ray Lewis who controlled the middle with big hits and bigger instinct.

I'm just amazed that a player whom I thought had the potential to be an NFL great would go out after one season.

SF's Borland quits over safety issues

By By Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru

ESPN.com

BERKELEY, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, one of the NFL's top rookies last season, told "Outside the Lines" on Monday that he is retiring because of concerns about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.

Borland, 24, said he notified the 49ers on Friday. He said he made his decision after consulting with family members, concussion researchers, friends and current and former teammates, and studying what is known about the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.

"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."

Borland becomes the most prominent NFL player to leave the game in his prime because of concerns about brain injuries. More than 70 former players have been diagnosed with progressive neurological disease following their deaths, and numerous studies have shown a connection between the repetitive head trauma associated with football, brain damage and issues such as depression and memory loss.

Chris Borland

Chris Borland prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on Nov. 27, 2014.

"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."

Borland was expected to be a key part of the 49ers defense this season after the retirement last week of All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. Borland replaced Willis, 30, after six games last season; Willis had sustained a toe injury.

Willis' retirement had no role in his decision, Borland said.

Borland said there was no chance he would change his mind. The third-round draft pick who starred at the University of Wisconsin said he has had just two diagnosed concussions: one while playing soccer in the eighth grade, the other playing football as a sophomore in high school.

Borland, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 248 pounds, earned accolades for his aggressiveness and instincts at inside linebacker. He had 107 tackles and a sack in 14 games, eight of them starts. He was the NFC's defensive player of the week for his performance against the New York Giants in Week 11. He led the team with 13 tackles in that game and became the first 49ers rookie linebacker in history with two interceptions in one game. He received one vote for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

His success last season did not make his decision more difficult, Borland said: "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 was referring to former NFL greats who were diagnosed with a devastating brain disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, after their deaths. Duerson and Easterling committed suicide.

Borland said he began to have misgivings during training camp. He said he sustained what he believed to be a concussion stuffing a running play but played through it, in part because he was trying to make the team. "I just thought to myself, 'What am I doing? Is this how I'm going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I've learned and knew about the dangers?'"

He said the issue "gathered steam" as the season progressed. Before the fourth game of the pre-season, at Houston, he wrote a letter to his parents, informing them that he thought that his career in the NFL would be brief because of his concerns about the potential long-term effects of the head injuries.

After the season, Borland said, he consulted with prominent concussion researchers and former players to affirm his decision. He also scheduled baseline tests to monitor his neurological wellbeing going forward "and contribute to the greater research." After thinking through the potential repercussions, Borland said the decision was ultimately "simple."

He said part of the reason he waited until now was because he wanted to inform his family and friends, including a few 49er teammates. He said he also wanted to have time to contact the researchers and study the issue further.

Borland, who earned a bachelor's degree in history at the University of Wisconsin, said he plans to return to school and possibly pursue a career in sports management. He had a four-year contract with the 49ers worth just under $3 million, which included a signing bonus of $617,436.

The decision to retire had nothing to do with the 49ers, Borland said. He said that his feelings toward the team and his teammates marked one of the hardest aspects of the decision.

"It's an incredible organization, and they truly looked out for players' best interests," he said.

Borland is the fourth NFL player age 30 or younger to announce his retirement in the past week. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds, 27, said he retired "after much thought and consideration" to pursue "other interests." Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, 26, said he left the game because he no longer had "the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living."

Willis said he retired due to constant pain in his feet, among other reasons. He was placed on the season-ending injured reserve Nov. 11 after getting hurt on Oct. 13.

Borland had a decorated career at Wisconsin, where he was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the year and linebacker of the year as a senior. He was a first-team All-American selection and multiple recipient of All-Big Ten honors.
 
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comfortably numb

Footballguy
Wow.

This is surprising.

I get guys who made some money and had some success but...

you think Borland is ready to take the next step to stardom and he is done before he can get either.

 

EBF

Footballguy
Another sign that football is slowly going the way of boxing. Can't really blame the guy. Who wants to end up like Junior Seau?

 

Slapdash

Footballguy
He certainly had made a decent amount of money that should help him through life. But, yeah, this is a shocking thing.

 

sports_fan

Footballguy
Are head injuries more common for linebackers than other positions? It's interesting that Willis, Worilds and Borland are all linebackers. Linebackers make a lot of tackles and therefore take a lot of contact. But it seems that RBs and lineman have it just as bad.

 
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KCitons

Footballguy
Wonder if Willis retiring played a bigger role in his retiring? Hearing that he was considering it before preseason last year. Maybe he thought it would be a couple more years before he would take over for Willis.

 

sho nuff

Footballguy
Are head injuries more common for linebackers than other positions? It's interesting that Willis, Worilds and Borland are all linebackers. Linebackers make a lot of tackles and therefore take a lot of contact. But it seems that RBs and lineman have it just as bad.
Taking on Olinemen...TEs...and usually head on collisions with RBs coming at them.

Had a great year last year...this is definitely a wow.

Good for him if that is what he wants to do...putting himself and family before the money.

 

sports_fan

Footballguy
Wonder if Willis retiring played a bigger role in his retiring? Hearing that he was considering it before preseason last year. Maybe he thought it would be a couple more years before he would take over for Willis.
According to the article posted it did not.

Willis' retirement had no role in his decision, Borland said.
 

Slapdash

Footballguy
Wonder if Willis retiring played a bigger role in his retiring? Hearing that he was considering it before preseason last year. Maybe he thought it would be a couple more years before he would take over for Willis.
According to the article posted it did not.
Willis' retirement had no role in his decision, Borland said.
Borland was a baller out there, a leader of the defense. I cannot imagine he would have felt unable to take a bigger role.

 

Borden

Footballguy
As a general societal view, the solution seems to eventually be finding a cure, or adding something to prevent the problem rather than then to remove the actual cause.

Things like nootropics, TRT, and other therapies are already starting to make improvements. At some point concussions might get to a point where only the worst one's truely impact a player. Then it will be the same as an ACL. Major concussion? Done for the year.

 

Bojang0301

Omar4Heisman
I always point to Zach Thomas highlights when talking about head injuries.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zTQOPcJWC4A

You can see how much the game has changed in just 10 years. Most all of his highlight hits are high tackles and most are jarring helmet to helmet. There is no secret as to why players are having the problems they are. I don't defend the NFL that much because I don't think they have the players best interests in mind most of the time. The concussion protocol has had its problems but tackling technique has moved to lower portions of the body and getting guys off the field when believed to have a concussion has also improved even with the flaws. Hopefully in the long term new equipment, rules, standards and techniques lead to less of the serious long term consequences and players get back to feeling safe having longer careers.

 

FUBAR

Footballguy
Wonder what guys like Borland, Locker, and Worilds do after retirement. They should have enough money to last a little while but probably not set for life. I'd think they'd make good coaches but if they retired for safety reasons perhaps not as it would be inconsistent to leave the game like this yet motivate kids to go play hard. Maybe get involved in companies trying to make the game safer?

 

Capella

CAPELLODINHO
As a general societal view, the solution seems to eventually be finding a cure, or adding something to prevent the problem rather than then to remove the actual cause.

Things like nootropics, TRT, and other therapies are already starting to make improvements. At some point concussions might get to a point where only the worst one's truely impact a player. Then it will be the same as an ACL. Major concussion? Done for the year.
We are nowhere near that.

Good for Borland. Ridiculously dangerous game. I love it but you have to be a little nuts to go out there and play it.

 

FUBAR

Footballguy
@drewmagary: Florio's reply here surely sets some kind of new milestone. https://t.co/YE6xArlVcG
athletes and commentators have made those ####ed analogies for years. but yeah, that's plain stupid.

Many people have made the decision to not play football due to the risk of injury. Only real difference is they make that decision much earlier in life.

 

Pipes

Footballguy
sports_fan said:
Are head injuries more common for linebackers than other positions? It's interesting that Willis, Worilds and Borland are all linebackers. Linebackers make a lot of tackles and therefore take a lot of contact. But it seems that RBs and lineman have it just as bad.
I think LB's probably are at higher risk. I've met Borland here in Madison and was shocked how small he was. Granted it was the off season but I think he was 5'9 and maybe around 220. I was shocked especially with how physical he played at WI. Too bad I'll miss watching him play but I completely understand his decision.

 

Pipes

Footballguy
Schefter and Florio protecting the shield on twitter today is AMAZING :lmao:
Cliffs Notes?
@AdamSchefter: Chris Borland was scheduled to make $530K this year, plus $10K workout bonus. Not many jobs pay 24-year-olds $540K for 6 months of work.

@drewmagary: Florio's reply here surely sets some kind of new milestone. https://t.co/YE6xArlVcG
So stupid. Borland has a degree from UW and plans to go back to school. Yeah he won't make $530K but something tells me he'll be just fine.

 

Capella

CAPELLODINHO
Borland: dad I'm thinking about retiring. Head injuries scare me.

Dad: you can't do that son, **** Butkus will think you're some sort of ##### boy.

Cb: Yea but dad I've never even met **** Butkus. Why would you even bring him up. Is he even still alive?

Dad: No son of mine is going to go through life having **** Butkus think he is some sort of ##### boy.

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
Borland: dad I'm thinking about retiring. Head injuries scare me.

Dad: you can't do that son, **** Butkus will think you're some sort of ##### boy.

Cb: Yea but dad I've never even met **** Butkus. Why would you even bring him up. Is he even still alive?

Dad: No son of mine is going to go through life having **** Butkus think he is some sort of ##### boy.
I can only imagine the dad being read by Donner in the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Xmas special.

"Now you'll knock heads against Marshawn Lynch and you'll LIKE IT!"

 
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rct

Footballguy
EBF said:
Another sign that football is slowly going the way of boxing. Can't really blame the guy. Who wants to end up like Junior Seau?
As far as fan popularity, football does not seem to be going the way of boxing. The most recent Super Bowl had record ratings, the largest audience for a U.S. television program in history.

And I am not certain boxing is that great of an analogy in that its decline was not due to concussions or injuries to the boxers but rather the fact that other sports became more popular. Horse racing suffered a similar decline but not because of concern over the health of the horses/jockeys.

 

biju

Footballguy
FUBAR said:
Wonder what guys like Borland, Locker, and Worilds do after retirement. They should have enough money to last a little while but probably not set for life. I'd think they'd make good coaches but if they retired for safety reasons perhaps not as it would be inconsistent to leave the game like this yet motivate kids to go play hard. Maybe get involved in companies trying to make the game safer?
There are vast differences between what each player made in the NFL. Locker completed his 4 year, $12 million contract. Worilds signed a $9+ million tender for 2014. Borland on the other hand, played for just under $600k last year (as I'm sure he'll only receive the prorated part of his signing bonus and have to give the rest back).

Assuming Locker and Worilds weren't completely stupid with their money they'll have plenty to live on. Borland will likely need to find employment in the next year or two, and I honestly hope he was serious about his education when he was in college.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Seriously, though ... guys like Shefter and Florio can't like seeing those first few grains of sand in the hourglass beginning to fall.

 

TobiasFunke

Footballguy
Butkus played in only 119 games, the fewest of any LB in the Hall of Fame. His career spanned only 9 seasons, and he retired at age 31. Upon retirement he promptly sued the Bears for improperly handling his injuries, including denying him the ability to seek second opinions when team doctors told him he could play and instead shooting him up with painkillers to get him on the field.

The fictional version of **** Butkus you have created in your mind might frown on Borland's decision, but I think the real **** Butkus would be just fine with it.

 
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mquinnjr

Footballguy
For what it's worth, they were talking about this on Opie & Jim Norton this morning. Obviously not an authority on the subject, but they had people calling in who had played football and sustained multiple concussions in the HS/college game. One guy called in and said through playing as a HS RB, he sustained 6 concussions. Had a scholarship to play in college that was pulled after #6. Said he didn't remember anything after that game, and ended up waking up asleep in street clothes on someone's lawn near the stadium. Gets spells watching TV where he'll start speaking nonsense and zone out to this day, sensitivity to light, etc.

That's pretty scary. I know the degrees vary from person to person and by amount of impact, but I can't find any fault in someone bailing out before the worst happens to them. They made a point that the speed and strength of players is outpacing the equipment, and I think I buy that. Sure, you'll have a line around the block of guys willing to take the risk, but that's what it is. Hazard pay.

 

JohnnyU

Footballguy
Butkus played in only 119 games, the fewest of any LB in the Hall of Fame. His career spanned only 9 seasons, and he retired at age 31. Upon retirement he promptly sued the Bears for improperly handling his injuries, including denying him the ability to seek second opinions when team doctors told him he could play and instead shooting him up with painkillers to get him on the field.

The fictional version of **** Butkus you have created in your mind might frown on Borland's decision, but I think the real **** Butkus would be just fine with it.
Butkus was tough as nails and as you said, he did play 9 seasons. Perhaps they should just fold the tents right now or start playing flag football instead.

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
AnoAnd I am not certain boxing is that great of an analogy in that its decline was not due to concussions or injuries to the boxers but rather the fact that other sports became more popular..
Boxing dried up for a few reasons, but it was more of a bottom-up decline -- way fewer young men went into recreational boxing in even the 1970s than 30-50 years prior. Events like the death of Duk-Koo Kim in the ring (1983?) helped slammed the door shut on widespread youth participation.

 

Capella

CAPELLODINHO
Butkus played in only 119 games, the fewest of any LB in the Hall of Fame. His career spanned only 9 seasons, and he retired at age 31. Upon retirement he promptly sued the Bears for improperly handling his injuries, including denying him the ability to seek second opinions when team doctors told him he could play and instead shooting him up with painkillers to get him on the field.

The fictional version of **** Butkus you have created in your mind might frown on Borland's decision, but I think the real **** Butkus would be just fine with it.
Butkus was tough as nails and as you said, he did play 9 seasons. Perhaps they should just fold the tents right now or start playing flag football instead.
You believe concussions are fake, don't you?

 

JohnnyU

Footballguy
AnoAnd I am not certain boxing is that great of an analogy in that its decline was not due to concussions or injuries to the boxers but rather the fact that other sports became more popular..
Boxing dried up for a few reasons, but it was more of a bottom-up decline -- way fewer young men went into recreational boxing in even the 1970s than 30-50 years prior. Events like the death of Duk-Koo Kim in the ring (1983?) helped slammed the door shut on widespread youth participation.
The heavyweight division glamour has disappeared, but the lower divisions are still popular. The popularity of heavyweights of the 60s and 70s and the middleweights of the 80s will never be matched again.

 

JohnnyU

Footballguy
Butkus played in only 119 games, the fewest of any LB in the Hall of Fame. His career spanned only 9 seasons, and he retired at age 31. Upon retirement he promptly sued the Bears for improperly handling his injuries, including denying him the ability to seek second opinions when team doctors told him he could play and instead shooting him up with painkillers to get him on the field.

The fictional version of **** Butkus you have created in your mind might frown on Borland's decision, but I think the real **** Butkus would be just fine with it.
Butkus was tough as nails and as you said, he did play 9 seasons. Perhaps they should just fold the tents right now or start playing flag football instead.
You believe concussions are fake, don't you?
Of course not, but I believe you are :)

 
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TobiasFunke

Footballguy
Butkus played in only 119 games, the fewest of any LB in the Hall of Fame. His career spanned only 9 seasons, and he retired at age 31. Upon retirement he promptly sued the Bears for improperly handling his injuries, including denying him the ability to seek second opinions when team doctors told him he could play and instead shooting him up with painkillers to get him on the field.

The fictional version of **** Butkus you have created in your mind might frown on Borland's decision, but I think the real **** Butkus would be just fine with it.
Butkus was tough as nails and as you said, he did play 9 seasons. Perhaps they should just fold the tents right now or start playing flag football instead.
And then he sued his team for misleading him and treating him like a piece of meat instead of a human being who had a life after football to consider. Sound familiar?

If the sport's fans and media mouthpieces are going to trash current and former players for making reasonable cost/benefit decisions about their futures instead of respecting them then yeah, perhaps they should fold the tents right now.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
That's pretty scary. I know the degrees vary from person to person and by amount of impact, but I can't find any fault in someone bailing out before the worst happens to them. They made a point that the speed and strength of players is outpacing the equipment, and I think I buy that..
It's funny ... you look back at guys like Nick Buoniconti, who never seemed punch drunk or out of it on Inside the NFL. But heck ... for all I know, the guy was living on Percocet or something.

Howie Long is another one -- he's still a well-spoken, sharp guy. Mark Sclereth and Mike Golic, too. But these guys -- today -- are generally considered very lucky, medically speaking, correct? And of course, all of them have lifelong musculo-skeletal ailments that they'll just live with,

 

Kool-Aid Larry

Footballguy
I don't think picking out 3 guys from thousands of guys really establishes any kind of baseline.

if I find 3 messed up guys does that flip the whole thing?

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I don't think picking out 3 guys from thousands of guys really establishes any kind of baseline.

if I find 3 messed up guys does that flip the whole thing?
Good point. Don't some of you still kind of wonder where all this concern was 20-30 years ago?

I know things change, we learn more, we get smarter ... but still. Not at all saying CTE research is BS or anything like that. Don't take me wrong. Just wondering ... where was all this back in the day? Was the game intrinsically safer, say, in the 1960s when everyone was 50 lbs lighter and 10% slower? The obvious answer is "yes", I realize.

And I do know that there were cases like Mike Webster that got some notoriety back in the 1980s. But how come Webster's condition didn't lead to more knowledge gained sooner and more action taken sooner? Weren't we smart enough by the mid-90s to know what was up? Seems like it's not merely that we know more today, but also something about the overall American culture is shifting.

It's all very strange to live through. Not mad, not lamenting the loss of the "tough guy" ethic. I guess just perplexed. Change is weird, I guess. Just doesn't come naturally. What else do we hold on firmly today that will be readily overturned tomorrow? Not just with football, or sports ... but with anything at all?

 
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Kool-Aid Larry

Footballguy
I don't think picking out 3 guys from thousands of guys really establishes any kind of baseline.

if I find 3 messed up guys does that flip the whole thing?
Good point. Don't some of you still kind of wonder where all this concern was 20-30 years ago?
I don't --- where was concern about seatbelts 30 yrs ago, what about drunk driving?

was there concern about smoking back in teh 50s, or did people actually think it was healthy?

if you're making a case that there are more impact injuries currently, I think that would probably make sense, but an evolution of increased awareness shouldn't surprise anybody.

 

matttyl

Footballguy
Slapdash said:
He certainly had made a decent amount of money that should help him through life. But, yeah, this is a shocking thing.
This conversation is going on in my league right now, from the Borland owner (not me). Did he make $1M+ last year (including his signing bonus)? Does he now owe any of that signing bonus back, or is that all his free and clear?

Also, it looks like he was scheduled to make just over 500k this year, 600k the following, and 700k the following - not sure how much if any is guaranteed. With the new CBA, can that contract not be extended or renegotiated until the final year (2017) at the earliest? Like why Russel Wilson has made less than $2m total the last 3 seasons, the Seahawks literally couldn't have paid him any more if they wanted to (till now, the last year of his deal). So if Borland did decide to continue playing (and stayed healthy) at best he'd made $1.1m total for the next two seasons before seeing "big money"?

Is all that correct so far?

 

Doug B

Footballguy
if you're making a case that there are more impact injuries currently, I think that would probably make sense, but an evolution of increased awareness shouldn't surprise anybody.
There are so many physically risky activities out there. I understand that football's risks statistically outpace things like BMX racing, snowboarding, gymnastics, etc.

Football can't be the only domino to eventually fall, can it**? Is American culture undertaking a slow, gradual referendum on "physical risk" or just on "football as we know it"?

** for sake of an example: judging by persusing the suburban streets around me, youth bike riding is on life support.

 

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