Chris Borland Retires At 24: Leaves SF 49ers Because Of Brain Injury Concerns

The San Francisco 49ers suffered a big blow on Monday when promising linebacker Chris Borland, 24, announced that he will retire from the game due to brain injury concerns.

Borland told Outside the Lines Monday that he informed the team of his decision on Friday. One of the NFL's best rookies of 2014 was expected to be a crucial member of the defensive line for San Francisco this coming season.

The fact that the Borland is retiring in the prime of his career makes the decision the more unexpected. So far 76 of 79 deceased former NFL players have been diagnosed with brain disease. Additionally, Borland is the fourth NFL player under 30 to retire from the game.

According to multiple studies, there is a close connection between repetitive head trauma, brain damage, and problems such as depression and memory loss, which affects a number of former players. Chris Borland says he decided to retire because of his health.

"From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk.

I feel largely the same, as sharp as I've ever been, for me it's wanting to be proactive. I'm concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it's too late... There are a lot of unknowns. I can't claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don't want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise."

Chris Borland started in 14 games, earning 107 tackles and was considered for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year title. He first began considering leaving the game during training camp when he suffered a concussion running a play, but carried on partly because he was trying to make the team.
"I just thought to myself, 'What am I doing? Is this how I'm going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I've learned and knew about the dangers?' "
Despite what many may think, Borland said the decision to retire was not difficult once he did extensive research and he realized what the health implications may be. The young player waited until now to make the announcement because he wanted to inform his family and friends and was waiting on the results from the research.

Chris Borland graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin and plans to return to school and possibly pursue a career in sports management, according to ESPN. In retiring, Borland gives up a four-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers worth almost $3 million, including a signing bonus of $617,436.

"It's an incredible organization, and they truly looked out for players' best interests," Borland said of his team.

[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]