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Don’t come Monday: Concussion-fuelled changes in NFL careers

(Image: Wikicommons)
Roar Rookie
14th September, 2016
7

For the 0.2 per cent of players that are fortunate enough to get drafted to the NFL it comes as no surprise that their career only lasts an average of 3.3 years.

Players are constantly moving from team to team, either chasing that big contract or being terminated and informed that they are no longer required.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams uses this as motivation after he was terminated by the Carolina Panthers in 2015. When Williams leaves his house he walks past his ‘Notice of Termination’ letter every day.

There was no thank you, just a cross next to the reason for being terminated. “In the judgment of the Club, your skill or performance has been unsatisfactory as compared with that of other players competing for positions on the Club’s roster”.

The NFL can be brutal. It’s no wonder we’re seeing more players holding out on their contracts and refusing to sign the franchise tag to pursue that lucrative deal. They have an undetermined amount of time to make as much money as they can to ensure they give both themselves and their family the best chance at life after football.

NFL players are becoming a lot more self-aware and it is becoming increasingly trendy for players to retire at a young age. There have been twelve players retire under the age of thirty this offseason.

However, there are other reasons why players are retiring at such a young age. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was put on the world stage by the film Concussion, and it is playing a major role in players retiring earlier than expected. Footballers are starting to figure out that once they have enough money in the bank they are moving on, with their health and mind hopefully still intact.

Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J. Tarpley recently retired at the ripe old age of 23. A history of concussions at both college and NFL levels he decided that there was more to life then the big contracts the NFL could offer.

Tarpley recently told the Monday Morning Quarterback, “I will never know if I would have received life-impairing damage to my brain somewhere down the line. He continued, “no educated person seems to be denying the relationship between brain injuries and football, yet there are no definitive measures. We still can’t answer the question of how much is too much. I was on the fence. I had to decide if I wanted to keep walking that line made thinner and thinner by my concussions.”

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The awareness of CTE will impact more NFL players retiring earlier and if this offseason was anything to go by, we could see the average length of an NFL career drop lower than 3.3 years. Future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning managed to play for eighteen NFL seasons. We may never see the modern day player reach these heights again.

The NFL is such a precious commodity that brings so much joy to households all over the world. Let’s hope that the phrase ‘Don’t Come Monday’ doesn’t become a term used by players retiring from such an early age.