JACOB BELL RETIRES; CALLS JUNIOR SEAU'S DEATH THE "CHERRY ON TOP" THAT CONVINCED HIM
"A couple of days ago, I wondered if Junior Seau's suicide would force NFL
players to confront an uncomfortable question that would leave them
asking how much their current occupation could adversely shape their
Since Seau's death, it seems to me, players are beginning to
openly ask what life will be like after they retire. Like, for instance, when
Giants defensive end <a HREF="/nfl/players/playerpage/396106/osi-umenyiora">Osi
Umenyiora</a> wonders whether he'll be wheelchair-bound by the time he's 45 -- though this idea
was contrasted by LaVar Arrington, who decried the so-called sissification of the game.
Either way, it's clear that
Seau's death has affected current players, probably moreso than any other recent
retiree's death. In one case, Seau's actions have led a current player to step
away from the game for good.
That's Jacob Bell, who started 100
of 109 games from 2004-11 for the Titans and Rams and who tells the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he's retiring in part
because he's worried about his future self.
Simply put, he's concerned
about head trauma and its future implications. And Seau's suicide was the
“cherry on top” that convinced Bell to end his career.
“The reality is
that for me it came down to risk and reward,” he told the paper. “I think you've
always got to weigh that out. At some point, you've got to kind of figure out
what you're in the game for.
"One of my biggest concerns when it comes to
the game in general is my personal health. 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
Bell signed with the Bengals a month ago, and on
Wednesday afternoon, Cincinnati placed him on the reserve/retired list. Bell
doesn't know how many concussions he has suffered. If the definition of the
brain injury is “seeing stars,” he figures he was suffering a minimum of 30 per
Which is long way off the estimate of former NFL linebacker Gary
Plummer, who believes Seau suffered a minimum of five concussions per game. But
it's a scary figure nonetheless.
Even taking away the death of Seau,
Bell couldn't help but ponder the effects of football on his family and about
unknown diseases that could occur because of repeated head trauma. The fact
deceased players have donated their brains for research gave him pause. And he
decided it was better to turn off the game rather than risk giving himself an
"It's just crazy to see how someone like Junior Seau
took his own life over -- God knows what he was really struggling and dealing
with,” Bell said. “But you have to believe it came from the game of football. I
want to get out before the game makes me get out, where I can get out on my own
terms, and I can limit the amount of stress and negative impact that the game
would leave on me."