WebMD News from HealthDay
By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, March 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Medical science has shown that football can take a terrible toll on the human brain, with repeated hits to the head potentially adding up to brain damage later in life.
But, it's been unclear whether players actively consider and accept the risk of brain injury as the price to be paid for their often-lucrative participation in America's most popular sport.
The surprising retirement Monday of National Football League standout rookie linebacker Chris Borland shows that some players are indeed weighing that risk, and coming to the conclusion that it's just not worth it.
Borland's announcement caps a tumultuous decade for football, in which the science of concussion-related brain injury has placed the sport in a light that's become more and more damning.
A number of former NFL players report struggling with thinking, memory and emotional problems, and autopsies of football players have revealed brains riddled with atrophy and abnormalities. Research has linked concussions -- particularly repeated concussions -- to increased risk of dementia, depression and other forms of mental impairment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even hits to the head that don't result in concussion are now being weighed as a potential source of brain injury, said Jay Alberts, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Concussion Center.
Scientists are increasingly concerned that brain damage might accumulate from the thousands of "sub-concussive" hits that a player absorbs during his career, stretching back through college, high school and youth league days, Alberts said.
"It's probably those sub-concussive blows that we really need to be understanding and worrying about," he said. "That's something they're experiencing often."
It's in this atmosphere that the 24-year-old Borland announced his decision to retire after a stellar rookie season in which he led the San Francisco 49ers in tackles.
Having suffered two diagnosed concussions, he specifically cited concerns about brain trauma as his reason for walking away from a promising career and piles of cash.
"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?'" Borland told ESPN.
source : For Safety's Sake: A Young Star Player Quits Pro Football...