Chris Borland said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” he will willingly give back to the 49ers part of the signing bonus he received last season.
“It’s not a cash grab as I’ve been accused of,” Borland told host Bob Schieffer. “I’m paying back three-fourth of my signing bonus. I’m only taking the money I’ve earned. To me, it’s just about health and nothing else. I never played the game for money or attention. I love football. I’ve had a blast. I don’t regret the last 10 years of my life at all. I’d do it over the exact same way.”
Borland, 24, shocked the NFL last week by announcing his retirement. He cited concerns about his long-term health, specifically head injuries, and said Sunday that while he has only been diagnosed with two concussions in his life, he probably suffered others beginning in high school.
Said Borland: “If you play linebacker or fullback or offensive or defensive line, which are physical, I think you’ll sustain at least mild concussions, of which there are over 20 different definitions. There’s a lot of gray area.”
Borland was a third-round pick last year and signed a four-year deal with a signing bonus of $617,436. By his estimation, he earned a quarter of it in 2014, a season in which he led the 49ers in tackles and received one vote for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. He said he will pay back the other three-fourths – $463,077 – to the 49ers. That money, if not returned, would have counted against the 49ers’ salary cap.
Borland said he isn’t trying to steer young people away from the sport.
“I think the one thing I can say is not to play through concussions,” he said. “I think that’s unwise. Such a small percentage of players ever play in college. Of that pool, a small percentage ever play in the NFL. So don’t do anything silly when you’re 16, 17 years old.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.