The media was abuzz last week as the San Francisco 49ers linebacker, Chris Borland, announced retirement after his first year of play. In announcing his decision, Borland cited concerns over the long-term impact of football-related head injuries as the reason he chose to exit the game.
An All-American linebacker out of Wisconsin, Borland was selected by the 49ers in the third round last year. His retirement effectively means he walks away from most of a $617,000 signing bonus and a $3 million, four-year contract, not to mention future earnings were he to remain in play.
Regarding his concerns over the long-term impact of head injuries, Borland said, “Health is more important than a career in football.”
There is risk of head injury in every life endeavor, to be sure. Whether driving on a freeway, riding a skateboard or bicycle, even stepping out of a shower, accidents — and head injuries — happen. But the preponderance of evidence suggests repeated concussions, like those suffered in football, have a lasting impact on one’s cognitive, behavioral and psycho-social quality of life.
That Borland chose the preventative route begs the question: What would you do?