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Full transcript of Tim Ryan's comments regarding Chris Borland retirement

49ers radio personality Tim Ryan had some controversial comments about Chris Borland's decision to retire. We have the full transcript to add a little context.

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San Francisco 49ers radio color commentator Tim Ryan was on KNBR Tuesday morning discussing the Chris Borland retirement situation. That interview has gotten a lot of play today due to some specific comments. Ryan spoke for ten minutes, and the noted comments included, "Patrick Willis retired, Chris Borland quit", and his discussion of the idea of going out on your shield. There has been quite a bit of reaction to the piece.

I finally got a minute to listen to the interview, and have transcribed it below. While I question some of his thinking as that of a time quickly passing us by, I do think there is some additional context to his comments worth noting. My thoughts are below after the transcription. You can listen to the full interview HERE.

I'm pissed fellas. That's how I'm doing. I am pissed off. No, look, big props to Chris, I've got a lot of respect for him. The selfish side of me is pissed that the 49ers are losing another quality player. Let's all remember it's about players not plays, and Chris was, still is fantastic. And then the other selfish part of me was inspired, watching him play, man. He was fun to watch. And at the end of the day, I come to the simple conclusion that fits in a lot of cases, and not just with Borland, football's not for everyone man, period. The risk in a lot of people's minds, despite a promising career ahead of you, the risk isn't worth the reward with some guys. And you may call that superior intelligence, because I never would have made that decision, but that cat has a little more upstairs than I do. Let's remember, I played I don't know how many years, college, Pop Warner, five in the NFL, 64 boxing matches. I know I got some lesions on my noodle.

Man oh man, Tim Ryan is the voice you hear, and he brings it up very good points right out of the gate. You're just going to miss watching the guy play.

Oh man, listening to Cosell, I just started getting visions in my mind of him squaring up Marshawn Lynch, and his intelligence. And that's what's so shocking with Chris, and you look at all the GMs and they go to the Combine and they get into all the interviews. Usually when a player, at least in my circumstances and experience, when a player leaves the game with a very promising career in front of him, there are warning signs in their behavior, and you can kind of see it coming, and that's why you see the GMs, and they go to the draft, and they ask all the questions, and you always hear the famous quote, "this guy loves football ... Football's important to him. With Borland, all of those things absolutely were right in your face, that he was all of that. And that to me is what makes it a bit confusing. The guy was all ball all the time, and I don't know, I think all the information, we didn't have it when I played. You knew that a concussion was bad for you, but you didn't know what a concussion was. You walk it off, get up, how many fingers, that whole thing. And you just gutted it out. But there's been a lot of info throughout Chris's upper echelon career, for sure. And before he started playing big time football at Wisconsin. Why now? So that to me is a little bit confusing, but I get that the jump from the college game to the pro game and the velocity and the intensity and the hazard is pretty much night and day.

So, more power to him, man. Smart guy, he's going to have a great life. I just hope there are no regrets because in my mind, in this league ... there's a lot more money in football than out of football for most guys.

True story. Certainly not the guaranteed money of baseball, which is just an obscene money grab....

You can't guarantee pro football totally, and I think we're a victim of our own success. This league is unbelievably hard to play in, not just from a physical standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint, from a mental standpoint. Making your body do things you absolutely 100 percent don't want to do every day. With a fear factor involved. If you gave baseball-type, and we've gotten there, and that's why you're seeing guys retire earlier, or walk away early. Because they do have money in the bank, and they do have opportunities outside of football.

But, the bigger and the more popular and the more revenue has grown in this game, I think that it's taken, it's really softened the edge on some guys. A lot of guys had to play ten years, twelve years, they didn't have anything else. So that dynamic has changed this game for sure.

OK, you mention we're going to get into the future of the league. So I love the Tim Ryan take, not just Borland, but Patrick Willis, who said...

Hold on a minute, and this isn't punitive on Borland, and I love the guy and I want to see him play. Patrick Willis retired, Chris Borland quit.

Is the landscape changing for the future of the league based on increased awareness of physical damage?

Yes and no. The league is continuing to be changed, and continuing to be manipulated from a safety standpoint. That's going to continue. This league doesn't look like the league I played in. The league 20 years from now is not going to look like today's league. But, I would say this, for every guy that decides to retire, quit, hang ‘em up, whatever you want to call it, there's gonna be 100 guys coming over the mountain willing to put it on the line and take the risk. So I don't think we're gonna run out of football players, again thousands of them coming over the hill. College football's got some pretty talented guys in it, just look at the draft prospects this year. Parents holding their children out of football, first of all, very, very small percentage that is going to play pro football. Go look at the statistics of youth football vs. youth soccer. You'd be shocked looking at the injuries and how they correlate. And there's more in youth soccer than in youth football, believe it or not.

But in terms of guys walking away early, this is, I don't think without question, a trend that continues. And it's just right back to my commitment level and sacrifice. And that deep fire in your belly to really get up and play this game to the highest level. And if you don't play it to the highest level, and the highest of your ability, you are going to get your ass run over. So you have to have that commitment level. That commitment level is easier to pull back, in my opinion from a psychological standpoint, when you got $10M, $15M, $20M in the bank. And with the dynamic of this league, and the money, and the revenue stream, the freakin' cap is at $143 million. With where this money is, and if the continuation of the guaranteed money continues to grow exponentially, you're going to see guys one contract and out.

And to me, that's good and bad. Guys are going to preserve themselves. But, football will have some repercussions. But there's going to be a lot of guys that are unwilling because of their comfort level in life, because of other opportunities in life, because of other desires in life. And to me, there's so much more out there to do than even when I was playing, just from whatever you want to do. There's everything out there, and I don't know, I think just because of the popularity of the game, unless you got that Frank Gore fire burning all the time, you're going to go out on your shield. I think a lot less guys here in the next decade are not going to be going out on your shield. They're going to be going out on their shield while holding their sword and still able to fight like Borland did.

These comments reflect a few things. In listening, it is clear Tim Ryan is of the old school in regard to concerns about health and safety in the game. It's about being tough guys who have the fire to put up with that kind of thing. He is not the first retired player to say that, and there are plenty of active players who say the same thing. 49ers guard Alex Boone is one such player who has had similar comments in multiple situations the last couple years.

The NFL ignored the issue of head trauma for a long time, and is only slowly being dragged into reality on the situation. Part of the issue we have seen is this idea of machismo in sports. There is this tough guy notion and if you are not willing to do it, you are somehow soft. Tim Ryan did not call Borland soft, but he did say the edge is being softened on some players, so take that however you want.

I think Tim Ryan means well, but his comments strike me as somewhat ignorant to the fact that CTE, dementia and other trauma related injuries are a serious issue. Yes, there is a certain element of personal choice, but the more we learn, the more there is to factor into the discussion. I suppose part of the quit vs. retire comment is a matter of semantics, but the league is changing, and for long-term health (more important than the game), that is a good thing.