John Moffitt was a 27-year old offensive lineman drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Wisconsin. He played two years for Seattle before being traded to the Denver Broncos, where he protected Peyton Manning for two games this year before calling it quits after some soul-searching during the Broncos' bye (off) week. This decision includes considerable financial sacrifice:
By announcing his retirement, Moffitt leaves more than $1 million on the table; approximately $312,500 of it is for the rest of this current season and another $752,000 would have come from his non-guaranteed salary in 2014.As you might guess, a large part of his reasoning was health/concussion-related. What I didn't expect, however, was the can of whoop-ass he opened on corporate America yesterday on Fox Sports' The Peter Schrager Podcast when discussing reasons for his early retirement.
In an article by Ross Jones of Fox Sports discussing the podcast, some Moffitt quotes include the following:
“It’s all dirty business and the worst part about it is — all business is dirty business. Let’s be honest, let’s look at Corporate America and what they try to instill in people, like it’s such a big deal because I leave the NFL. That’s how brainwashed people are with money and a false sense of security, but not only is the NFL dirty corporate America business, but now you’re risking people’s health.”Moffitt apparently injured his knee in 2011 and claims he had to hire a lawyer because:
“You’re not appropriately taken care of with major injuries and stuff like that because they don’t want to affect profit margins or whatever else they do."In addition, according to Marc Weinreich of Sports Illustrated, at the time he retired Moffitt told the AP:
“I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all...I don’t need the Super Bowl experience. I played in great stadiums and I played against great players. And I had that experience and it’s enough… How much do you really need? What do you want in life? And I decided that I don’t really need to be a millionaire.”Included in the SI article is another gem regarding Moffitt's epiphany:
“I just want to be happy. And I find that people that have the least in life are sometimes the happiest. And I don’t have the least in life. I have enough in life. And I won’t sacrifice my health for that.”It turns out he's been reading literature from the Dalai Lama and Noam Chomsky, is looking forward to spending time with his girlfriend and five-year old daughter, and hopes to shed some of the 319 pounds he no longer needs for leverage against defensive linemen.
As for the big picture, I'm stunned by the rapidly changing fortunes of the NFL. Fueled by fantasy leagues (gambling), fan fervor, tv popularity, and the Super Bowl Experience, just two or three years ago it was untouchable. But things don't look so good for the league right now. Aside from integrating helmets and bodysuits that make severe injuries rare-to-obsolete--equipment that currently does not exist--I don't know how they're going to overcome the obstacles they face. Vile, bullying players aren't helping.
I don't know how much time the NFL has to figure things out but you can take the following to the bank: should the Cleveland Browns continue to improve and miraculously make this year's Super Bowl, the league will fold permanently on February 2nd, a few minutes before kick-off.