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Should More NFL Players Seriously Consider Retiring Because Of The Tragic Death Of Junior Seau?

Submitted by on May 11, 2012 – 12:35 pmOne Comment
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Jacob Bell made a decision recently and it was probably the hardest decision he’s ever going to have to make. The NFL offensive lineman, who recently signed a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, decided to retire, effective immediately, in order to preserve his health rather than to continue his football career. And, shortly after announcing his intent to retire, he admitted that he was making that decision partly due to the tragic death of Junior Seau that took place last week.

What makes Bell’s decision so interesting is that he’s not currently injured in any way. He hasn’t suffered a ton of concussions in his career (although he does admit that he’s been hit in the head plenty of times). He hasn’t spent the majority of his career of the injured reserve list. And, frankly, we hadn’t even heard of Bell until this week when he made his announcement because he hasn’t gotten a lot of press for any of the injuries that he has suffered during the course of his career. So, it’s not like the’s making this decision because he’s already seeing what football could do to his long-term health. Rather, he’s making it because he saw what happened to Seau—how football seemed to affect his health so much that he decided to take his own life—and he decided to make a judgment call based on a gut feeling that he has with concern to his health.

“We have so much to look forward to after we’re done with football,” he said on ESPN’s Outside THe Lines on Wednesday, “that, you know, to have something like the brain trauma and the CTE stuff [Ed. note: CTE is a neurological disorder that stems from repeated head trauma.] is such a factor. For me, it was a big consideration.”

But, will it become a big consideration for other NFL players, too? Right now, probably not. Although hundreds of football players put their bodies and their minds at risk every year simply by setting foot on the football field, most of them have an “it won’t happen to me” attitude when it comes to long-term health risks. That’s not to say that they’re not worried about their health. But, they get caught up in the moment and worry more about now than the future. And, as a result, there aren’t going to be many football players out there who will be willing to play the “what if?” game, quit the NFL, and give up millions of dollars simply because they might have health problems one day.

Some football players out there should consider calling it quits before they’re forced to do so, though. Rather than hang out in the league for years and years past their prime, NFL players should think about exactly how they want to leave the game of football and have a plan in place. They don’t all have to do what Jacob Bell just did. But, they should take a look at the tragedy involving Junior Seau and factor that into their decision when thinking about retirement. Because, while an extra one or two million dollars in the bank is nice, is it really worth it if it means that, one day, you won’t even remember your own name? Probably not. And that’s what Bell seems to want to avoid, even if it means he has to make the hardest decision he’s ever going to have to make.

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