At 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds, Jordan Cameron cut an imposing figure on NFL fields for six seasons. But on Friday, the 28-year-old tight end said he won’t be returning for a seventh. He follows Chris Borland and Husain Abdullah as the latest NFL player to retire early citing concerns over concussions.
“I started thinking about concussions too much,” Cameron told ESPN. “You can’t play football like that.”
Cameron, who spent his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns before moving to the Miami Dolphins for his last two, has suffered four concussions over the course of his career. His latest came in September during the second quarter of the Dolphins 30-24 victory over the Browns. That’s when Cameron said he began to question his career choice.
As early as November, Cameron, who retired as a free agent, began publicly debating whether he’d continue in the sport. After months of contemplating his priorities in life, the choice became clear. With CTE and other long-term ailments connected to concussions in the forefront of his mind, he decided he didn’t want to risk putting his or his son’s future at risk any longer.
“I want to be there for him,” Cameron told ESPN, referring to his 8-year-old boy Tristan. “And I want more kids, and I want to be present with them. I don’t want them dealing with things that we’ve seen some other guys are dealing with.
“It’s one of those things. I can’t risk my mental health in the future.”Cameron said he’s showing no symptoms of brain abnormalities now. (“I’m perfectly fine”), but because doctors can’t definitively tell him that he’ll be okay in the future if he were to get a fifth or even more concussions, he decided to err on the side of caution.
“Do I want to risk even the slightest chance of having a mental disorder or depression, all these things, for a game that has already given me what I wanted to get out of it?” Cameron asked. “The answer is no. I’m not risking that at all. There’s nothing more important than your health. It’s just not worth it to me.”
Cameron, who was selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl, played 66 games total in his six years with the NFL, but just three last year. He leaves the NFL with 173 catches for 2,046 yards and 14 touchdowns. Seven of those touchdowns came in his third year with the Browns in 2013.
Cameron previously played football at USC, where he also excelled at basketball. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Browns