“… and the only way to move forward for me… is to remove myself from football, and this cycle.”
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made one of the toughest decisions of his life yesterday. Just weeks before the start of the regular season, Luck retired from football. His coaches and teammates had to understand; after six seasons, his perpetual pain had become too much to bear. Luck made the decision with life, and life after football, in mind, and he deserves nothing but respect.
Player health has never been under as bright a spotlight as it is today. With research on CTE and concussions becoming more prevalent, rules have been put in place to penalize players for endangering others, and equipment is being designed to further stymy the negative effects of constant contact.
Still, even with all these ongoing advancements, it is not enough, and some players simply can’t escape a state of brokenness. Luck retired to remove himself from the cycle, and other players in similar predicaments likely took notice of such a high-profile figure putting his personal health, and the security of his family, first.
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One such player is Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed. The Florida product has never played a full season with the Redskins. He’s had foot issues, shoulder issues, calf issues, and upwards of seven concussions over the full span of his football career. Heading into preseason, Reed was assumed to be fully healthy, and reports out of training camp suggested that he looked better than ever.
He was on the field for one quarter in the Redskins Week 3 preseason matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. And in a faultless football play, with one receiver lowering his shoulder to maximize a reception, and with one defender lowering his upper body by instinct to make a sound tackle, Reed suffered another helmet-to-helmet hit with Keanu Neal. Now, just days after coming into a preseason game with a clean bill of health, he’s back in concussion protocol.
There’s no timetable for return for Reed, and if the words of Andrew Luck resonate with Reed, that return may not be a guarantee. With so many concussions suffered, Reed has to consider mitigating permanent damage while he still can. Players with less concussions have been known to experience the effects of CTE, and players with more have seen their lives derailed after their careers.
It’s never an easy to hang up the cleats, and doing so right before the regular season only compounds the difficulty of such an act. But if Reed were to do so, no one could blame him. He had a bountiful career, and walking away willingly, in order to preserve the control you have left, is better than seeing the game taken away from you, when it’s too late.