For Pete's Sake

Other notable players who recently quit the NFL at age 30 or younger

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The Associated Press

Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah on Monday joined a growing list of NFL players who have stepped away from the game.

In an Instagram post, Abdullah wrote that a history of concussions was the main reason he was leaving pro football behind at the age of 30.

“There are numerous deciding factors in my decision, with personal health being foremost,” he wrote. “Sitting for five weeks last year after suffering the fifth concussion of my career, I had a lot to contemplate. My goals moving forward are to be of benefit to my family, my community, my country and hopefully the world. Having a sound mind will be vital in accomplishing these goals.”

Earlier this month, ESPN reported that 19 players age 30 or younger having retired already this offseason (not including Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch). If you add Lynch and Abdullah that number is 21.

Here are some notable players who have quit the NFL over the past year in what would have otherwise been the middle of their careers. Not all made the decision because of their health, but it was certainly a factor in many.

▪ Calvin Johnson, Lions: Arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Johnson announced his retirement on March 8. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford told the Detroit Free Press he wasn’t surprised that Johnson was walking about at age 30. “He was catching quite a few passes and getting hit quite a bunch, and so it takes a toll,” Stafford said.

▪ Jerod Mayo, Patriots: The linebacker stepped away from the NFL on Feb. 16 at the age of 29. He told ESPN that he made the decision “after the season with his family and that he feels great health-wise.”

▪ Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: During Super Bowl 50, the running back posted a photo of his cleats hanging from a telephone wire. There’s been no official announcement that Lynch is retiring at 29, but his agent tweeted: “These past 9 years working for you has been a journey i will cherish and never forget.”

▪ Adrian Coxson, Packers: The receiver suffered a Grade 3 concussion on the third day of training camp last summer. Just a rookie, that was enough for Coxson to quit at age 23. “The next hit to my head could possibly kill me or be life damaging. This last one could be life damaging,” Coxson said in an interview with

▪ B.J. Raji, Packers: The defensive lineman said he was taking a “hiatus” from the game, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is just 29 years old.

▪ Anthony Davis, 49ers: Last June, the right tackle said he planned to step back from the game at the age of 25. “After a few years of thought, I’ve decided it will be best for me to take a year or so away from the NFL,” Davis said in a statement. “This will be a time for me to allow my brain and body a chance to heal. I know many won’t understand my decision, that’s OK.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff