Early Sunday morning Chris Borland appeared on Face The Nation to talk about the move that stunned the nation, his retirement from the NFL at the young age of 24 after a remarkable rookie season. If you have not seen the interview yet, here is the link:
Chris Borland on Retirement CBS News via Face The Nation
Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer asked Borland if there was one event that led him to walk away from millions of dollars. Borland replied "There was a moment in camp where I probably sustained a mild concussion, and it wasn't something that was detrimental to my health immediately, but changed the way I viewed the risks of my chosen profession." Borland did a lot of research about the possible detrimental effects that concussions could have on his future health. His response to NFL's Senior VP of Health and Safety, Jeff Miller's, statement that football is safer than it's ever been, was: "That may be true, however, football is inherently dangerous and that will never change." Borland continued by saying "I love visceral feeling of the violence of the game. I think everyone that plays at a high level is passionate about that. However, I don't think you should [sic] be uninformed, and I think you should have every opportunity to know all you can about the dangers of that feeling you love and the sport that you are passionate about." Borland also answered the question that many had asked following his retirement: would he payback the signing bonus of which he had earned only a portion of. He finished his interview confirming that his retirement was not the cash grab he has been accused of, and he will be repaying 3/4 of his signing bonus.
I am newer to covering the 49ers than most of my media colleagues, but I have been a fan my entire life. My first “foot in the door” gig covering the Niners was to go to Patrick Willis’ ProCamp. For those of you who don’t know, ProCamps is an organization that facilitates kids spending a day, sometimes two, with their favorite athlete. Upwards of 300 kids at a time attend camp, which is an organizational feat in itself. The kids are broken up into smaller groups, do warms ups, drills and even play in scrimmages. The campers get a chance to interact one on one with the pro athlete featured at the camp. My first ProCamp was also Patrick Willis’ first ProCamp.
At the start of the camp the player addresses the entire group and there is usually a Q&A and trivia about the player. The campers age range is 5-12 for most camps, 5-18 for others. As a result, some of the kids know everything about the athlete and others, simply know the team they play on. What impressed me the most was Patrick’s message to the campers. He talked about how being from Bruceton, Tennessee, he had really wanted to be attend the University of Tennessee. "They didn’t want me, but when someone doesn't want you, that doesn't mean you give up on wanting to go to school or wanting to pursue your dream, that just means you find a way to go get it somewhere else. That worked out at Ole Miss, they gave me a full ride and that's where I went, and here I am years later."
Willis also talked to the Campers about thanking the people that brought them to the camp, and what a great opportunity it is to be able to go to a program like ProCamps. He touched on his childhood a little bit and thanked everyone in the crowd himself. Patrick Willis is an anomaly. He is humble and grateful while being incredibly talented. He had every opportunity to take the wrong path during his challenging childhood (link to his E:60 piece), but did not. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet with Patrick and wish him the best in his retirement. He will be missed.