Today we saw Kansas City Chief’s Safety Husain Abdullah retire from the NFL due to concerns about concussions. Abdullah is 30 years old and still in the relative prime of his playing career so it begs the question, why retire?
Husain had 286 combined tackles during his seven-year career that included 6 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. Abdullah split the time in his career with the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs. His career really started to blossom once he arrived in Kansas City in 2013 after taking a year off for the Hajj, a holy journey to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Muslims.
Abdullah said that the main concern for him was his future health and after a 7 year NFL career he felt that it was the right step to protect his future. This is yet another case, in a string of recent cases, of a player in the middle or beginning stages of a career that decided to retire. We have never seen this before in this history of the sport and it just shows that the studies and research are making a difference. In the past year we have had retirements of Chris Borland (sophomore player), Jerod Mayo, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch (supposedly), and Adrian Coxson (Packers rookie this past year). Players are making a safety decision for the first time and the research has given them the tools and ammunition to do so. For the NFL to have allegedly hidden this information and manipulated research for years is starting to look worse and worse by the day.
The NFL has only recently publicly admitted the connection between Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and football. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s VP of Health, admitted to the connection and it freaked the whole sports world out. It freaked people out mainly because the NFL had seemed like the shadow government who would do anything before publicly admitting something of that nature. Even though CTE can only be diagnosed after death, you are seeing an increase of players make an early decision based on the future.
Still, despite that, we see people who are against the connection between CTE and NFL. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians called those who won’t let their kids play football “fools”. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thinks there is no way at all that the two things could be connected. To me, this is a desperate continuation of those who love football/work in football trying to defend the life of the NFL. Many people think that if this comes true that the very future of the NFL and fantasy football and everything they love will disappear. I do not share this viewpoint. I think that better knowledge can help the future and safety of the NFL. Most likely, in my opinion, what will happen is that it will get to the point where they have done enough rules/equipment wise to improve safety and players will just have to sign a waiver form acknowledging the risks in the future.
The truth is that players will still keep playing the game despite the risks in my opinion. There is too much money in this league and in addition to the glory, there just seems to be too much to just leave lying on the table for many players. I just think you will see a few more players retiring in the prime of their careers once they have achieved that first big contract or early success in winning. However, the seriousness of Abdullah’s retirement and the more we learn about CTE should never be underscored.