Thursday, February 22, 2018
Rookie Linebacker’s Retirement Was Either Big News or Not News, Depending on Where You Live

WASHINGTON, D.C.  March 17 (DPI) — Major news sites on the East Coast – namely, the NY Times and the Washington Post – made much of the news that a San Francisco 49er rookie linebacker has chosen to retire, citing the health risks of football. Both newspapers highlighted the report on their index pages for much of today, with The Post asking ominously if it marked “the beginning of the end of the NFL.”

In other parts of the country, though, the coverage was less crusading, and sometimes barely apparent.  In Dallas, The Morning News’s site had no report of the news that 24-year-old Chris Borland – the Niners’ leading tackler last year after playing only part of the season – elected to retire rather than subject himself to the risks of repeated head trauma.  Instead its site was plastered with the latest personnel moves by the Cowboys.

Even the hometown San Francisco Examiner pushed the news of Borland’s retirement down its page, posting a wire story, which mostly focused on the competitive loss to its team.

Still, the longterm impact of head injuries on players has become a major issue for the NFL. The league last year reached a nearly $700 million settlement with the players union to address such injuries, but a judge has since ruled it not sufficient; a larger settlement is expected.

Many readers on the Post and Times sites, meanwhile, tended to agree with the premise that the league has a serious problem, which threatens its place as the #1 spectator sport in America. Some likened the rash of news about long-term player health as akin to boxing in the 40s and 50s.  “Maybe football is going the way of boxing,” wrote one.

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It’s smart of Borland to walk away. The shame of it is that for all his hard work and talent, he only got paid a pro salary for one year. His college career involved no such compensation despite the fact that he enriched the University of Wisconsin greatly as a player there. He made the sacrifices, took the punishment, and never got paid for four years of what, by all logical estimations, amounted to his part in a highly professional and lucrative enterprise.

Borland displays an astounding amount of maturity and common sense by making this decision. I have the feeling we have not heard the last of this thoughtful and intelligent young man – I wish him great success in whatever he decides to pursue from here.

Good for Chris Borland. May he live a long and happy life with his brain intact. Now if the rest of the NFL players would wise up and retire, we could stop reading daily articles about NFL players dying or killing themselves because of traumatic brain injury.

Chris Borland should be commended for his actions. His retirement should send a message to a lot of parents out there to try to steer their children away from football. The sad thing is that children of the poor, who have athletic abilities, still see football as a way out of poverty. In the past, boxing was a way out for poor athletes, but that is no longer the case. May football suffer the same decline.

I remember in the 1950’s that professional boxing was one of the most popular sports in America. Maybe football is going the way of boxing



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