Cowboys center Travis Frederick announces retirement at age 29

Travis Frederick just shocked the entire NFL. The perennial All-Pro center has decided to unexpectedly retire at the age of 29, only one year after successfully returning to football. Frederick missed the entirety of the 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an illness that forces the body to attack its own nervous system. At one point, Frederick didn't have feeling in his toes and feet, putting him on a road to recovery that did not guarantee he'd every suit up to step onto an NFL field ever again.

In the process, Frederick walks away from more than $11 million in 2020 salary, and gives the Cowboys -- who'll suffer only a $935,000 cap hit -- time to put their contingency plan in place. This cap hit presumes a pre-June 1 designation, with a post-June 1 designation mushrooming the Cowboys cap savings in 2020 to $7 million. 

In 2019, he beat the odds against him and started in all 16 games for the Cowboys, becoming a frontrunner to land Comeback Player of the Year. While he wasn't able to take home the honor, what he did in his return was more than honorable -- performing at a high level and effectively regaining his status as one of the best centers in the NFL

He issued the following statement on Monday, waving goodbye to the league: 

After much consideration, discussion, and reflection, I have decided to retire from football. This was not an easy decision. I entered the league at 22 years old, unsure of where life would lead. I since have married, welcomed two beautiful, healthy children into this world, and achieved professional levels of which I could have never dreamed.

Playing football has given me many amazing things. I had the good fortune to play on very successful teams, participate in Pro Bowls, and even be named All-Pro. I have been surrounded by not only elite level athletes and coaches, but elite level men. I have learned from and worked aside some of the game's best players and coaches. Surprisingly, what I learned from them on the field paled in comparison to what I learned off the field: specifically, how to be an impactful member of the community, reliable teammate, and devoted family man.

I started a journey almost two years ago that completely blindsided me. When I developed Guillian-Barré Syndrome, I did not know how to handle things. I was scared. That experience forced me to reevaluate my life priorities. I spent much of that year thinking about both the past and future. I realized how fortunate I was to play a game for a living. I realized how fortunate I was to make friends and become teammates with some great men. Most of all, I realized the importance of my family and how much I want to be there for their peaks and valleys as they were for me.

Football is risky. Each day, players go to work knowing this could be their last day playing. Facing the potential end of my career because of my illness forced me to imagine life after football. I had to prepare for my career potentially ending. Some players fear life when it no longer revolves around football; the moment one stops playing the sport to which one's identity and dreams have been tied to for 20 years. After months of contemplation, I not only accepted that moment, but I also, surprisingly found myself welcoming the moment. I was ready for the next stage of my life; however, the competitor in me would not accept going out without returning to the field.

I made my return to the field, played well overall, and was selected to the Pro Bowl, but it was a difficult year for me. Each day I faced a struggle: I could no longer perform at my highest level. Playing "well" is not what I expect of myself and is not what my teammates deserve. Because of this, I know my days as a football player are done. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, and I walk away with my head held high.

I thank the Jones family, the entire Cowboys organization, and my teammates for allowing me to go on this wild ride. I am very lucky to have played my entire career for and with the greatest sports franchise and fanbase in the world. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the support and opportunity over the last 7 years. I thank my family and friends for their support and for enduring my crazy schedule. Most of all, I thank my wife, Kaylee, for her unending support and belief in me. She handled the NFL craziness with beauty and grace. No one gives enough credit to the significant others in the NFL.

I am so thankful for the last 7 years; however, I look forward to the next chapter of life. Kaylee and I will continue to make a positive impact on the Dallas community which has given us so much. Best of luck to the 2020 Dallas Cowboys and the franchise in the future.

Sincerely, Travis

Shortly after the announcement, owner Jerry Jones issued a statement as well.

"Travis Frederick, by the nature of his center position, was the core piece of what I believe to be one of the most talented and skilled offensive lines that has been assembled. His leadership ability, production and intelligence put him at the top level of interior offensive linemen in our league for many years. At the pinnacle of his success, his career on the field was only exceeded by a rare display of courage and determination in overcoming a life-threatening illness and returning to the game -- a challenge that could only be completed by a person with rare levels of perseverance and strength. 

"As a contributor to our community, a family man and a professional person, he has distinguished himself as an exemplary representative of this organization. And for the rest of his live, when his name is mentioned in the same sentence as the Dallas Cowboys, he will be lifting the standards of excellence and esteem that has characterized the history of our proud franchise."

A former first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2013, Frederick was also one of the few resident iron men for the Cowboys. He played in every single regular season game over the course of his first five seasons, and then the aforementioned 16 games in 2019, available for every season except the one that immediately followed his diagnosis. More specifically, the 2018 season notwithstanding, Frederick playing in 100 percent of snaps in his career. The former Wisconsin Badger wasn't a popular pick for Dallas in 2013 -- much-maligned, to be exact -- but proved to be one of the best selections in the franchise's storied history. 

Replacing him will not be an easy task.

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