Buffalo Bills linebacker AJ Tarpley announced on Wednesday that he will retire from the NFL after just one season, citing a concern for his future health after suffering multiple concussions. Tarpley announced his retirement over his Instagram page.
“The only thing comforting about not knowing this play would be the last of my career, is knowing that I never took a second for granted,” Tarpley explained on Wednesday. “After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health.
He continued his announcement by thanking all the coaches who have helped him throughout his playing experience. The Buffalo Bills signed Tarpley as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford University where he was granted Second-team All-Pac 12 honors in 2014. As a rookie, Tarpley played in 14 games for Buffalo and recorded eight tackles and two interceptions.
This theme of NFL players retiring early in their career has seen a drastic increase as of late. Just last season, Patrick Willis, Jake Locker, Jason Worilds, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis all retired “prematurely” for their age. Willis at age 30 was the oldest of the group. With the considerable amount of evidence coming out regarding later-life brain damage and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it is only fitting to see this many players retiring prematurely.
Just recently on March 15th, the NFL’s top health and safety representative acknowledged a link between football-related head trauma and CTE for the very first time, despite being presented hard evidence of former player’s brains, like Mike Webster and Junior Seau, since the early 2000’s. A study done by Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist from Boston University, showed signs of CTE in 90 out of 94 brains of deceased NFL players, which was what the NFL representative based his decision on.
Obviously the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, but AJ Tarpley was thinking more about his future health when making his decision. Some may find his retirement strange, while some may applaud his unexpected choice to retire.
“This decision is the hardest I’ve made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it’s what is best for me going forward.”