49ers player retires at age 24, says football isn't 'worth the risk' in groundbreaking decision

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland told ESPN’s Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru that he’s retiring at age 24, becoming the highest profile NFL player to quit the sport at a young age due to concerns over head injuries.

“I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise,” he said.

Borland is “healthy” for an NFL player. He told ESPN that he has only been diagnosed with two concussions, both before he reached the NFL. He played one season for the 49ers before retiring.

He told ESPN:

“I’ve thought about what I could accomplish in football, but for me personally, when you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories and to be the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that as a person I don’t want to take on.”

He added, “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health. From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

It’s a groundbreaking decision. For the first time, a young, starting-quality NFL player is voluntarily leaving the game because he believes it is inherently dangerous, even if you aren’t diagnosed with multiple concussions.

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