Yesterday, Chris Borland, a 24-year-old linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, retired from the NFL. He didn’t retire due to injury, sickness, or lack of ability. In fact, he received a vote for NFL defensive rookie of the year last season, so it’s not like he was just some scrub who couldn’t hack it. This is a 24-year-old guy that stood to make tens of millions of dollars playing football, and, based on the potential he showed during his rookie season, could’ve ended up being a perennial Pro Bowler.
So why did he retire?
Well, basically, he weighed the earning potential of a career in the NFL against the odds of severe head trauma and brain disease that so many former players suffer from, and chose health over wealth, fame, and gridiron glory.
The whole world is talking about Borland’s decision to walk away from the game. Internet people have been loading their hot take cannons and firing out explosive opinions all day long. So many piping hot takes, so little time.
What interests me most about this whole situation, though, are the reactions of current NFL players. I mean, can you imagine how this would make you feel if you were in the NFL?
No offense to anyone but I'm playing until I can't anymore. I love this game to much.
— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) March 17, 2015
Have you ever been super psyched to go out and get shitfaced on a random Tuesday night, and then one of your buddies, who we’ll call Tim, says, “You know what guys? I’m just gonna take it easy tonight and stay in, maybe watch some Netflix.”
Suddenly, everyone is asking, “What the fuck is Tim’s problem?”
“Does Tim have a secret girlfriend? A secret boyfriend? IS TIM A GAY?”
“Maybe it’s Tim’s time of the month, that bitch.”
“Tim is a fucking pussy!”
By 2:00am, you’re leading an entire bar full of strangers in a “FUCK TIM! FUCK TIM! FUCK TIM!” chant.
That’s what happens when someone decides to go against the grain. It makes everyone else uncomfortable. All the guys who were excited to go out, get sloppy drunk, and piss themselves after passing out, even though it’s Tuesday night, are now questioning their own decisions.
“Is there a good reason Tim isn’t going out? Maybe I shouldn’t go out. Am I a degenerate alcoholic?”
That initial confusion and unease quickly turns to frustration and anger.
“Does Tim think he’s better than me? Get off your fucking high horse, Tim. Pompous piece of shit. I’ll show him by getting extra drunk!”
Got to respect Borland for clearly putting thought into his decision. If you're not 100% committed to this game, better to walk away.
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) March 17, 2015
Guys deciding to walk away from the game at a young age is a great reminder to us all that life has a bigger picture. I wish them the best!
— Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) March 17, 2015
It's extremely difficult when you're living your dream of playing in the NFL as a 20-something to contemplate what life could be like at 50.
— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) March 17, 2015
The anti-football crowd is loving the Chris Borland retirement. Doing their best to scare moms across the country.
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) March 17, 2015
Tim put getting hammered drunk on a Tuesday on one side of the scale, and being miserably hungover and unproductive on Wednesday on the other side of the scale, and BOOM, he made his choice.
Much like Tim, Borland put money and fame on one side of the scale, and quality of life after the NFL on the other side of the scale, and BOOM, he made his choice. Because that’s what this is — one man making a choice. Whether or not you agree isn’t the fucking point, because it’s not your choice. Put that in your hot take pipe and smoke it. .