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Chris Borland Retires from the NFL over Fear of Traumatic Brain Injury

The star rookie believe that his health is more important that his career


Houston, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/25/2015 --On March 16, 2015, NFL star rookie, Chris Borland, announced that he would be retiring from the 49ers, and from football altogether. His reasons for doing so shocked many - Borland expressed concerns over the safety of his brain, saying that the risks of sustaining a concussion—or multiple concussions—are too high in the sport.

Announcement Coincides with NFL Criticism

While Borland's announcement certainly came as a surprise, the fear that playing in the NFL may have dangerous consequences in the form of tragic brain injuries isn't new. Rather, Borland's announcement coincided with an onslaught of criticism against the NFL for its policies regarding trauma to the head. And what's more, Borland isn't the first to retire for concerns over TBIs—he was the third young player in the past week alone to retire his jersey.

The Link Between Football and Brain Damage

All concussions types are serious, and many concussions are undiagnosed, as they don't always result in a loss of consciousness. According to ESPN, more than 70 former NFL players have been diagnosed with progressive neurological diseases post-death. Repetitive blows to the head are also associated with depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline. The NFL has also stated that three out of every 10 players will face neurological decline, dementia, or Alzheimer's as a direct result of head trauma incurred by playing football.

Preventative Measures Essential

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that ignoring the signs of a concussion can make the concussion even worse, and that returning to sports after a concussion should be introduced gradually and with the supervision of a health care professional. Borland seems to have heeded the warning, stating that he currently feels healthy and as alert as ever, but is making the decision based on wanting to "live a long healthy life" and not wanting to incur any neurological problems or die younger than he would otherwise. In other words, quitting the NFL now is an act that's based on preventative measures—a decision that the general manager for the 49ers said was unexpected, but respected, as reported by the Huffington Post. (As a note, Borland had incurred two concussions playing football in his younger year, before joining the NFL).

The Future of Players in the NFL

All the statistics regarding traumatic brain injuries and NFL players are harrowing, and more than one player—including Mike Webster and Dave Deurson—have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy after death. As such, the future of players in the NFL is unknown, and whether or not changes to NFL policies will be made is up in the air. In September of 2014, the NFL offered a $765 million settlement to thousands of players who had filed claims against the organization for the failure to disclose information about the dangers of football in regards to the brain. Now that that information has been disclosed, the decision to continue football is in the hands of the players.