Early Retirements Are Exposing The NFL’s Dirty Little Secret

Patrick Willis

The NFL has a big problem. No it’s not domestic violence, child abuse, or narcotics—although all three are HUGE problems not just in the NFL, but in our society. It’s concussions. The league has been ducking this issue like a bookie that made a bad bet. They have used Ray Rice, Josh Gordon and Adrian Peterson’s problems to quietly turn us away from this, but with no controversy looming, the league is set to finally answer the concussion issue.

NFL Free Agent Frenzy Already Off To An Insane Start

Bringing this issue to the front line is the slew of young retirees this week. In the past two weeks the following players have hung up their helmets.

  • San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, age 24.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worlids, age 27.
  • Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, age 26.
  • San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, age 30.

Notice there’s no one over the age of 30, an age where players are usually entering their prime and landing the biggest contract of their professional lives. Apparently the money isn’t worth the health problems. According to researchers 30% of former NFL players end up developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, much higher than the general population. And the former players are well aware of this.

A host of former players filed a lawsuit against the NFL Players Association in 2014 for the withholding accurate information about the risk of head injuries. The story hasn’t gotten much coverage thanks to the controversies mentioned above, but hopefully the time has come for the league to step up and confront a problem that can end up leading to the ultimate demise of professional football.