AJ Tarpley’s decision to retire after just one season with the Buffalo Bills is jarring.
Although it’s happened on a few different occasions in recent years, it’s still highly unusual to hear of a 23-year-old willingly walking away from professional football – after working his entire life to reach the game’s highest level.
But reading anything more about the future of the NFL based on Tarpley’s decision would be a mistake. There are hundreds of college players eager to enter the league and take his place later this month through the draft or as free agents – which is the route Tarpley took.
Would his decision have been different if he was a first-round draft pick making guaranteed millions, as opposed to the $525,000 he was scheduled to make in 2016 – if he made the team?
That’s an answer we’ll never get. That means we have to take Tarpley’s decision for what it is: A case of an intelligent young man making a carefully thought-out decision on his future.
Having a Stanford education to fall back undoubtedly made Tarpley’s decision easier for him. He should have no problem succeeding in whatever comes next for him.