Competitive athletes are quick to say quitting goes against their instincts and everything they heard from coaches. They’re so busy pushing toward full potential that they rarely think about retreating. Walking away? They’re told time and again that it’s the easy way out.
But it was the opposite for A.J. Tarpley.
It would have been easier for him to succumb to what came natural and keep playing for the Bills. Who knows? He could have gone years without suffering another concussion and pocketed millions of dollars. He could have gone to training camp. He could have rolled the dice.
Instead, he took the path of most resistance and retired while he still had his wits. Tarpley studied the long-term effects of concussions and made a sound decision with his head no matter what his heart told him. The same brain that led him to Stanford preserved the brain that will carry him through life.
Too often, NFL players leave the game without realizing the toll taken on their bodies until the damage is done. Tarpley wasn’t willing to sacrifice a productive life for a few years of football. It was a tough decision. It was the right decision.