A.J. Tarpley made his decision to retire public last week.
In an Instagram post, Tarpley stated, "After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health."
On Tuesday, the former Buffalo Bills linebacker shared his decision to retire on Sports Illustrated's MMQB. When discussing his rookie season in Buffalo, Tarpley admitted that he hid two concussions from the Bills.
Tarpley stated, "During a padded practice in training camp last summer, I suffered my third concussion since high school. I met a fullback in a gap and his facemask caught the left side of my helmet. I went through the rest of practice with a headache and tunnel vision, and then went to the trainers after practice and asked them to check me out. I passed balance, vision and memory tests, and once I realized my memory was fine, I didn’t press the issue."
The linebacker went on to talk about how he had an awful headache in the days that followed and that he tried to convince himself that it was due to dehydration. Tarpley stated that if he mentioned the headache to trainers, he could be reevaluated and miss time. He felt that was a risk he couldn't take as an undrafted free agent.
His fourth concussion came in London against the Jaguars.
"On my first defensive play, I hit the oncoming offensive tackle, shed the block, and just as I was lowering myself to tackle the running back, he was hit from behind by one of our defensive linemen and the crown of his helmet connected with my temple," Tarpley said. "My vision started to close in on me and I blew a coverage assignment on the next play. I got pulled off the field, and I tried to buy myself some time. When asked about the blown coverage, I told a coach that I made a mistake and it wouldn’t happen again."
Once again, Tarpley knew he suffered a concussion but he attempted to cover it up by buying more time. He actually took part in Buffalo's goal-line stand before pulling himself off the field. At that point, the Bills trainers diagnosed him with a concussion.
Although Tarpley should have let trainers know of his concussions, his explanation of why he hid the concussions made sense. Tarpley's roster spot was far from guaranteed and time off the field could have costed him his job. Luckily, Tarpley can now walk away from the game with his health intact.
You can read Tarpley's entire piece here: Why I Walked Away from Football at 23null