Football fans were caught off guard earlier this year when San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired from the NFL after only one season. Borland had put together a standout campaign, and with Patrick Willis already announcing his retirement, he seemed in line to continue as a starter on the 49ers defense. Instead, he stunned the sports world by announcing his own retirement a week later.
Borland received a $617,436 signing bonus after the 49ers drafted him, and he has agreed to return $463,077. The 49ers will get a salary cap credit in 2016 for that amount, along with money returned by Anthony Davis (no word on Patrick Willis or Justin Smith prorated bonus money).
Borland was recently asked about where things stand four months removed from his announcement. He is enjoying life and preparing for a trip while figuring out the next step in his life. However, he still gets the same questions regarding the money he has given up in choosing to retire:
"That has been the biggest surprise for me," Borland said last week at the 2015 Legends of Wisconsin Golf Classic. "People can't get over the money.
"That's all they think about. But your health is a little more important."
"I think people were surprised," said Borland, who signed for $2.3 million over four years. "But I signed a contract. I was living by the contract."
It is easy to say, "Well, obviously he should know the game is violent." He knew the game was violent, but as we have seen, he learned more about the specific issues that can arise. Upon learning more about these things, he decided it was not for him. Pretty simple really.
I get that people are pissed he waited until March, but I find myself perfectly fine with this. He made the decision that he believes is best for him, he is returning his signing bonus money, and he is moving on, while attempting to further the research that is out there for the connection between football and brain trauma. People will remain angry because of concern about how this impacts the 49ers performance moving forward, but eventually they'll move on as well.