D’Brickashaw Ferguson, a star offensive lineman for the New York Jets who’d never missed a snap in his professional career, is retiring from the game of football at just 32-years-old.
Ferguson, who was the fourth overall pick for the Jets in the 2006 NFL Draft, signed a 6-year, $60 million extension in 2012, but something happened towards the end of last year that changed his entire outlook on his profession.
He saw the movie Concussion.
Ferguson penned a response to the film for Sports Illustrated in December, explaining that he’d felt “betrayed by the people or committees put in place by the league who did not have my best interests at heart,” after learning about the significant damage that can be caused by even the smallest helmeted collision on the football field. In the actual film Concussion, which was nominated for a Golden Globe and starred Will Smith as the doctor who discovered CTE, a disease that players can develop after multiple blows to the head, Smith’s character hones in on the damage offensive lineman face in every game, considering they are often mandated to make vicious contact with the opposing team after each snap.
Though Ferguson didn’t explicitly state this was the reason for his retirement, it’s likely not a coincidence. Ferguson has been fortunate enough to not have ever been injured during his 10-year career, and this may be his way of keeping his health intact.