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Risk of head trauma contributed to Jacob Bell’s retirement


When we reported on Jacob Bell’s decision to retire from the NFL Tuesday, the reason given for the choice was that Bell had lost the desire to play.

That’s true, but Bell expanded on the reason he walked away in an interview with Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His lost desire can be attributed to the fact that Bell is concerned about the potential impact continuing to play could have on his post-football life. The guard, who had signed with the Bengals earlier this offseason, said that recent information about head trauma, as well as Junior Seau’s suicide, played a major role as he weighed the options.

“One of my biggest concerns when it comes to the game in general is my personal health,” Bell said. “One thing that’s obviously on the minds of a lot of people lately is brain research and all the stuff that’s going on with that. One of the big things that I thought about when I was considering this is how much do I love the game? How much can they pay me to take away my health and my future and being able to be with my family and just have a healthy lifestyle?”

Bell said that he might have made a different decision if he was still making millions of dollars a year, but that the veterans’ minimum wasn’t enough for him to risk winding up with severe problems down the road. Bell cited Seau’s death, but also mentioned watching Titans coach Mike Munchak trying to run on a body that spent 13 years on NFL offensive lines and saying to himself that he didn’t want to end up like that.

There’s been a dissonance between former players suing the league for injuries suffered while in the game and current players complaining that rules designed to make the game safer are in fact ruining it. Bell’s decision is a rare one, but perhaps the increased focus on post-football difficulties will make it less unusual moving forward.