Earlier this past week, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland made waves in the sports world when he announced that he was retiring from the NFL. No big deal. Players retire all the time, you’re probably telling yourself. Except that Borland was 24 years old and led the 49ers defense in tackles last season as a rookie. He threw in a sack and a couple interceptions too.
Borland would go on to tell ESPN’s Outside the Lines that his goal in retiring was to protect himself against the risks of future brain injury as a result of playing football. Many have made an attempt to dismiss Borland and minimize the gravity of the decision he made. Yes, another player will stand up to take his place. Yes, people will continue to play football. Time will tell whether he is an outlier or the tip of an iceberg.