Roger Goodell downplays the alarming rise in the number of NFL players retiring early

In the lead up to the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual state of the league address on Friday from San Francisco and downplayed the growing trend of players retiring early from football.

“If you lose your passion, maybe it’s time to move on,” Goodell said.

Last week, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson announced his retirement, making him the most recent NFL player to voluntarily choose to retire from football at a young age.

Last year alone, 19 NFL players, aged 30 or younger, retired from the sport. Just four years before that, the number was five, according to data collected by ESPN.

Most notably, 24-year-old NFL standout Chris Borland retired explicitly due to concerns about concussions.

“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 told ESPN at the time of his retirement. “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.”

On Friday, Goodell made no mention of injuries or concussions as a possible explanation for the increasing number of players prematurely retiring from football.

He added that if he had sons, he’d want them to play football, while also downplaying the significance of risk and injuries that can happen.

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