This offseason has been like every other NFL offseason except for one thing, early retirements. Patrick Willis, Jason Worilds, Jake Locker, and now Chris Borland have ended their careers prematurely. Willis had played a full eight seasons before deciding that he couldn’t play through the pain in his feet, Worilds walked away for what multiple reports state as wanting to pursue other interests, and Locker decided that he didn’t have the same burning desire he once had to play the game for a living. Willis was 30, Worilds was 27 , Locker was 26 and Borland is 24 years old.
Borland burst onto the national scene last season when Patrick Willis went down for the year for the San Francisco 49ers, the third round pick in last year’s draft seized his opportunity to fill in for the All-Pro in Willis.
Borland had an amazing rookie season for the 49ers, tallying 107 tackles and two interceptions. After Willis announced his retirement, many expected Borland to join Navorro Bowman in the middle of the San Francisco defense and for the duo to excel. Now, not only are people worried about what the 49ers do at the inside linebacker position going forward, but is this just the beginning of a trend in the NFL.
The now retired Borland stated that he’s been proactive in doing his own research in an appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. He has had two concussions in his life, both before his collegiate days at Wisconsin. Borland has taken his time, been in touch with researchers and come to a decision that he can live with. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
This does become a huge talking point across the country, whether the NFL is in trouble or are these just isolated retirements. The ‘battle lines’ have already been drawn, is the NFL in trouble long term? Or is it just ‘next man up’ as some say? With there being far more information out there and players being more aware of the risks of playing the sports, it will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out going forward.
And given the NFL’s history with head trauma, players have no reason to think the league will ever look out for their interests.
— Doug Farrar (@SI_DougFarrar) March 17, 2015
The NFL isn’t collapsing tomorrow because of Borland. That’s not what I am saying. But his decision could resonate because of unique nature.
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) March 17, 2015