FOXBORO - The thought of retiring never crossed Ted Johnson’s mind - not even after a troublesome visit to his personal physician - but the symptoms were impossible to ignore.
Headaches. Memory loss. Lack of sleep. Johnson knew something wasn’t right with his body after 10 years of playing professional football, and he ultimately decided to do what he felt was right for himself, his teammates and his family.
Johnson shocked the New England Patriots on Thursday by announcing his retirement after a successful career in which he won three Super Bowls and developed into one of the top linebackers in team history.
The 32-year-old Alameda, Calif., native said he could "no longer ignore the severe short- and long-term complications" of the concussions he sustained throughout the years. Johnson said he was diagnosed with "at least half a dozen" during his career.
A visit to the doctor during the offseason uncovered a case of head trauma, but Johnson didn’t think it was serious at first. He later underwent an MRI that confirmed his doctor’s initial diagnosis. Johnson had every intention to play this season until he discussed the situation with his family.
"I was ready to go, but the closer I got to camp the more I started feeling like my body was telling me something and I just couldn’t ignore the evidence that was there about the brain injuries and the concussions," he said. "It was something that I really wasn’t willing to take the risk for.
"I love the sport and everything football has given me. I love this community - and the fans, too. The fans have been hugely supportive of me my entire career. I was playing for all the pure reasons. Maybe I was trying to convince myself.Maybe if I said it then I could convince myself that this was the right thing. Quite honestly it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t ignore this. I really needed to address it and I did. It was a very, very difficult decision."