NFL rookie Chris Borland, the San Francisco 49ers player who announced his retirement after just one season, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that his choice to quit to avoid long-term consequences of frequent head trauma is "the best decision for me."
"The decision was simple after I had done a lot of research and it was personal," Borland said. "I was concerned about neurological diseases down the road if I continued to play football, so I did a lot of research and gathered a lot of information and to me the decision made sense."
The NFL and anyone connected to the sport of football have been struggling with rising concern over number of concussions that players can suffer while playing. After Borland announced his retirement, the league's senior vice president of health and safety policy, issued a statement saying, "by any measure, football has never been safer and we continue to make progress with rule changes, safer tackling techniques at all levels of football, and better equipment, protocols and medical care for players."
"We are seeing a growing culture of safety. Everyone involved in the game knows that there is more work to do and player safety will continue to be our top priority," he said.
While Borland said that may be true, "football is inherently dangerous and that will never change." In the midst of an intense play, he said, "talking about the culture of safety is really irrelevant."
He said he didn't want to send a message to people that they shouldn't play football at all, but he did urge young players not to play through concussions. He noted that such a small percentage of players make it to the college level - and an even smaller number go pro - that you shouldn't "do anything silly" at the age of 16 or 17. Borland himself said he has played through concussions, and that other players are likely to do so as well.
"I love the visceral feeling of the violence of the game; I think everyone that plays at a high level is passionate about that," he said. "However I don't think you shouldn't be informed and you should have every opportunity to know all you can about the dangers of that feeling that you love and the sport that you're passionate about."
He said he has no remorse about losing out on millions of dollars and answered critics who said he was making a cash grab by playing for just one year.
"I'm paying back three fourths of my signing bonus. I'm only taking the money I've earned," he said. "This to me this is just about health and nothing else. I never played the game for money and attention. I love football and I've had a blast. I don't regret the last 10 years of my life at all. I'd do it over the exact same way."