Chris Borland today said a routine play during 49ers training camp set in motion his decision to leave the NFL at age 24 and after just one season. Borland said he never reported the hit to the team's medical staff but figures he suffered a concussion.
"I thought so," he said on CBS This Morning. "There's a lot of vernacular in football about getting your bell rung or getting dinged, and it was one of those instances. The hit itself wasn't cataclysmic. It just kind of changed the way I approached the game."
Borland said it was the routine nature of the play that had him worried. He said he asked himself how many times would that type of collision occur over the course of his career.
"So it triggered a change in thought for me," he said. "And subsequently I did a lot of research."
Borland began seeking out neurologists and experts on concussions. One of the things that concerned him, he said, was that he didn't find a lot of answers. "I don't think even the top neurologists truly understand the risks, the connections," he said. "That's what I found out in my research, and it's just too many unknowns for me and there were too many tragedies for me to be comfortable playing."
Borland previously cited the deaths of former NFL players Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, who were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after they committed suicide.
Borland said he didn't expect his retirement to become such a lightning rod issue. In one of his conversations with a neurologist, the doctor told him his retirement probably would be a one-day event.
"It’s obviously gone further than that, and that wasn’t my intent,” Borland said. “I’m not particularly interested in having in-depth conversations about it. However, while it’s in the spotlight, I think there have been enough former players who’ve suffered and future players whose health might be at risk. So it’s important to talk about the information that’s available.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.