Johnathan Franklin Retires: Packers Running Back Forced To Quit After One Season

Johnathan Franklin has retired from the NFL after just one season, leaving the Green Bay Packers after being diagnosed with a serious neck injury.

The running back was a fourth round pick in 2013, coming out of UCLA. Franklin played backup to Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy most of the season, but came in against the Cincinnati Bengals to rush for 103 yards on 13 carries, including touchdown runs of 51 yards and 2 yards. Franklin also lost a fumble on 4th-and-1 with just over four minutes left that the Bengals ran back for the game-winning score.

But in Week 12 the Packers put Johnathan Franklin on the season-ending injured reserve after he suffered a neck injury. As doctors looked more into the injury, they found it was much more serious than originally thought.

The Green Bay Packers have offered support to Franklin after his surprise retirement.

“I can’t say enough about him as a person,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s as classy of a young man that’s walked through these doors. Anybody that’s had a chance to get to know him, just on and off the field, he’s a class act.”

The team seemed to see a bright future in Franklin.

“It’s too bad he got hurt,” Green Bay general Ted Thompson said in January. “He was doing a good job. Everything as advertised. He’s got a nice game. He’s very balanced, quick, heady and confident.”

Datone Jones, who played with Franklin both at UCLA and in Green Bay, said the news was difficult but added he’s not worried about Franklin in the future.

“He’s a special guy. He was a special guy at UCLA, and not only on the field but off the field,” Jones said. “He was very involved off the field. One thing I do know: He has a calling outside of football to lift people and bring people’s spirits up. Hopefully he can pursue his dream to become the mayor of L.A.”

Johnathan Franklin hasn’t announced what he plans to do next after his surprise NFL retirement, but said, “I will stay strong and keep my peace through Christ.”