Should Morgan Consider Retirement?

There are only a few certainties given to us in this world. <br><br>One – we will all die at some point. <br><br>Two – What we do with the time we have will live on longer than we will.

The lifespan of a professional football player in the National Football League is oftentimes shorter than many marriages. Most aspiring athletes never even reach that pinnacle of competition and excellence and when they do, it's a very short trip back down. The Carolina Panthers have seen their share of shooting stars burn out after just a few years of being at the top of their game. Names like Donald Hayes, Stephen Davis, Rae Carruth and Fred Lane bring memories of those who brought us greatness but who burned out after a short amount of time due to various reasons.

Another bright star is facing a crossroads in his career. Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Dan Morgan has lead or has been in the top of the team's tackles and is the undisputed leader on the team's defense. However, despite all the success that he's had with his talents, his numerous injuries have started many to question whether or not Dan should step down from playing football before something happens that will affect him for the rest of his life.

Morgan came into the league as the 11th pick of the first round in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. His stats while healthy have been more than impressive. Since winning the Butkus Award, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award during his career at the University of Miami, Dan has also accounted for 144 tackles and 87 assists. However, besides being a walking tackle machine, Dan has also turned into a walking MASH unit.

Starting in 2001, Dan missed five games because of a broken leg. In 2002, Dan moved to the middle linebacker position and only started eight games due to injury. He suffered a sports hernia that year and injured his shoulder so badly that he had to be placed in the injured reserve in December 2002.

Most football players suffer one sort of injury or another while playing. It comes with the territory and is part of the game. The biggest concern that many have for Dan Morgan is the number of concussions he's suffered since playing professional football. A concussion, according to (, is a jarring injury of the brain resulting in dysfunction. It can be graded as mild, moderate or severe depending on loss of consciousness, amnesia and loss of equilibrium. The middle linebacker position is a position that usually has the most head-on collisions with other players.

Unofficially, Dan Morgan has had at least five concussions. Here's the concern when it comes to concussion, according to medical research:

- Players with a history of three or more previous concussions were three times more likely to have a concussion within the season than those without a history of a concussion.

- Headache was the most commonly reported symptom of concussion at the time of head injury; generally, the headache lasted about 82 hours. Other symptoms included dizziness, problems with balance, and slower thinking.

- Those who had multiple concussions had slower recovery time; 30% of those with more than three previous head injuries had symptoms more than one week; 15% of those with just one previous concussion took a week to recover.

- Of the 12 within-season repeat concussions, 92% occurred within 10 days of the first injury, and 75% occurred within seven days of the first injury.

- Injured football players required several days to recover from even the mildest head injuries.

- Injured athletes had more severe symptoms such as slowness in thinking and balance problems immediately after concussion, gradually recovering within one week after the head injury. There was no evidence of problems 90 days after the accident.

- Recovery varied from player to player, on average symptoms resolved within seven days -- with 10% requiring more than a week to fully recover.

This basically means that every time Dan gets a bad head on collision, he puts himself at greater risk at having another concussion, being out several more games and creating permanent damage to his body. Concussions can sometimes leave people with permanent damage such as diminished memory and slower verbal and motor responses. It can affect cognitive, psychological, emotional, social and physical being, to varying degrees. Memory, concentration and senses can be impaired.

Dan's only had five concussions officially counted. There is no way of telling the number of concussions he's had while playing in high school or college. Currently, there is no concussion "quota" in the NFL or in other professional sports, either, although several athletes have retired after suffering numerous concussions.

As great as it is to see Dan Morgan out on the field every Sunday, leading the Panthers defense, there does come a point where you have to look past the on field successes and realize that this person will want to have a life past football. I am a huge Dan Morgan fan but I am more of a fan of Dan Morgan living a healthy life, even if it means stepping down from the thing that he loves doing the most.

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