By Jordan Kendall, Asst. Sports Editor
With the recent retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, another great player has retired in their prime. In the past few seasons, some of the best players have retired earlier than expected. The trend should be concerning to the NFL. If more athletes continue to retire early, the future of the league will be in jeopardy. Let’s take a closer look at some of these names, and why the NFL should be worried.
Walking Away Early
In the past five years, some of the greatest players of their era have retired early for various reasons. Most of them battled injuries and decided to move on with their lives. Former Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor only played in nine games in 2017 before being placed on the injured reserve list. In 2018, he was placed on the physically unable to perform list and missed the entire season before being released after eight seasons played. Chancellor’s Seattle teammate, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, battled injuries throughout his body in 2018 and had three surgeries this offseason before retiring.
“The perspective is, I have to do what’s best for my wife and for my future children, and that comes first,” Baldwin said in an interview with ESPN’s Brady Henderson. “And when you’re faced with the decisions of, ‘Well, if I continue to do this, what is my health going to be like when my child is born?”
Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired after one season due to concerns of CTE.
“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.”
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson did not retire because of injuries, however, shocked the NFL by walking away at 29-years-old.
“I can’t put in what I want to put in, what I used to put in to get the results that I used to get. I can’t put in those same efforts and I’m not going to sell myself short,” Johnson said to The Undefeated. “I’m not going to go out there and not be 100 percent.”
Level Of Concern
When Luck retired, it was called the most shocking retirement since Barry Sanders. Seeing as many young stars retire in their prime has to be concerning for the NFL. With the concern of CTE at an all-time high, the more players who follow suit, the fewer stars we will have to watch. The future of football isn’t bright as participation in youth tackle football, as well as high school football, has declined. If there isn’t enough talent to play in the NFL in 15-20 years, the game will be in serious jeopardy. Other sports, such as basketball and baseball, have seen increased participation from youth. The NFL is the most popular sports league in America, so it’s going to be hard to see it fall. But if more and more athletes decide to play other sports, the future of the league could be at stake.
No league currently faces as much scrutiny and controversy as the NFL. From the protests to the handling of off-the-field incidents, it seems in recent years that more negatives have come from the NFL then positives while the NBA doesn’t have nearly as big of an issue with players getting in trouble off the court. According to NBAcrimelibrary.com, 28 NBA players have been arrested in the past five years. According to USAToday however, 40 NFL players have been arrested since 2018. This is the only sport where players seem to retire in their prime to protect their health, despite playing the least number of games per season of the four major sports. Football is a dangerous game, and it’s difficult to take the danger out of it. This epidemic looks to continue and should be at the top of the NFL’s list of priorities. They can’t afford to lose mor