WAKE UP CALL: Young Athletes Retiring Early

March 18th, 2015

Over the past decade, we have witnessed young professional athletes entering the prime of the their careers beginning to call it quits; competing in the sport that they love and dreamed to be part of.  Health concerns and long term effects, have begun to over take the amount of money these potential superstars would most likely make over a solid career.  “Player safety is our priority every day with our players”, is the statement that was recently released by the NFL as some of its top players and rookies have decided to hang up their cleats to have a better future elsewhere.  Is it the right decision to retire early? Is it worth it to throw away millions of dollars that will be guaranteed? Is it more so pressure to be this new age superstar? Or, is that these players just want to have a healthier lifestyle and are paying attention to those from past experiences?

Recently, the hardest hit organization with players retiring early has been the San Francisco 49ers.  7 time Pro Bowler and Team Captain Patrick Willis, decided to retire after battling through a bundle of minor injuries that became more irritating to deal with.  His replacement, Linebacker Chris Borland, also decided to retire after just one season in the NFL.  When asked on ESPN Outside The Lines, Borland stated: “I have learned and observed other players in this league and the effects from head injuries.  I don’t want to fall into that category of players that suffer from long term effects and catching it now means more to me than a career in NFL.”  Due to recent concussions hits, player safety has grown more into the spotlight of NFL athletes and has dropped 25 percent from over the past few years.  Although that is a positive, its still something that lingers among everyone.  Jason Worilds and Jake Locker also decided this offseason, to retire as these players 26 and 27 years old in the prime of their careers, felt it was best to hang it up. These potential stars and leaders in the NFL, are now at a stand still as organizations must now revise their plans to replace the productivity they both represent.

The NFL is not the only league that has had to deal with early departure of athletes.  Portland Trailblazers All Star Brandon Roy, was viewed as the new age point guard when he entered the league and with Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge; were the cornerstones and franchise players to bring the Trailblazers back to championship forum.  Due to several knee injuries and aggressive treatments, Brandon Roy was forced to retire early in his career.  Although he tried to make a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Roy was not the same player. Realizing this at 25 years old, it was a hard task to say goodbye.  Former Duke star Jason Williams and others have become analyst at varies networks to continue having a connection with the game that they love; but realized the pressure, commitment and sacrifice wasn’t worth the risk.  As a former pro athlete myself, you endure a lot of underlined expectations to be at your very best and have to be willing to take on everything that comes your way.  Everyone has their own cap of what they can handle, and the issue is that we as fans and humans, have a hard time understanding that reality.

No matter what these young players decide, the show will still go on and bring wealth to those that invest more into it.  The questions will always remain unanswered or with answers that are tainted with prejudge notations that these players are suppose to not quit and give everything.  They are looked as cowards and guys that couldn’t hack it; yet people forget, that we the athletes volunteered and choose to play these sports and should be given the right to walk away when we see fit.  We proclaim we care about the health of others, but rather care more about the almighty dollar.


Joshua Jeremaine Horton


Jakallinc / JH85 Marketing



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