Home » Blog » Why is Chris Borland leaving the NFL?

Why is Chris Borland leaving the NFL?

About a week ago, Borland awoke in a hotel room in Guadalajara, Mexico to shocking news as fellow San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis had retired at 30.

Borland paced around his hotel room and knew more bad news from the 49ers was on its way. As the heir apparent to Willis, he would be the source of the bad news.

Borland said it hurt knowing that he would let both his team and the fans down. Borland had been in Mexico teaching at a youth camp.

Borland was one of the top rookies in the NFL last season, but dropped a huge bombshell late Monday night by telling a show on ESPN that he was retiring at 24 due to concerns over the long-term head trauma that could impact him in the future.

His retirement has left a huge hole down the middle of the 49ers defense and has brought into focus attention on the physical toll of the most popular U.S. sport.

After experiencing his own retirement on Monday on SportsCenter, Borland responded to a number of texts and calls after speaking with his father on the phone.

Borland described how he gets a euphoric high when playing football, but had to weigh that against the realization his personal violent style of play might leave him with brain damage or even worse.

Last year after he suffered an apparent concussion training camp, Borland looked into the situation extensively during the season, including consultations with former players, long time critics of the league and neuroscientists.

He ultimately walked from what he considers a dream, a star on the rise and now might have to return close to 75% of his more than $671,000 signing bonus, as well as forfeit the majority of hits $3 million four year contract.

He said playing could have killed him and that puts perspective on the whole thing for him. He called it something he wanted to do.

Friends have asked him why he did not play another season but he did not want his health negotiated for more money.

Borland consulted David Meggyesy a former player with the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a sports activist who wrote a memoir in 1970 about what it was like playing in the NFL. Meggyesy supported Borland’s decision and said it could send a bigger message.

Borland does not want to wave a banner just yet or be the NFL retired poster child, but in the end, his action does make a huge statement.

Mike Webster’s plight while Borland was in college is what brought his attention to the situation. The legendary center from Wisconsin and the Pittsburgh Steelers battled with mental health issues and died in 2002 becoming the first to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

  • 100%