Mike DeVito, a defensive lineman that played nine seasons for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, retired earlier this offseason. On Sunday, he revealed the reason he decided to call it a career at 31 years old to Siriux XM NFL Radio: DeVito's wife convinced him to hang up his spikes because he'd suffered too many concussions.
"If it was just me up here and I didn't have a family, my wife and two sons, that'd be one thing. I probably would have went back," DeVito said. "But my wife has really helped me make that decision, to say, 'OK, you know, I can't sit through watching you get these concussions and watching you tear your Achilles and all those kind of things.'
"And the thing is, when you start messing with your head -- you're likely to recover from an Achilles injury or a knee injury and things like that -- but when I started getting concussions, I had two right in a row, you've got to be really careful. You see the new data coming out. That really changes who you are as a person. So it was a tough sell to my wife and, obviously, she's a higher priority to me than football is. It made the decision easy, but it still was difficult."
DeVito mentioned the developing trend of players deciding to end their careers earlier because of concerns about traumatic brain injuries. Chris Borland, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, retired after only one season due to head injury concerns.
"I think the more and more stuff that comes out about the injuries and, obviously, the concussions is a big thing now," DeVito said. "Just the long-term effect of stuff and the studies that are being done, I think guys are trying to find that balance between, 'OK, I'm playing it as well as I can and I'm doing things on the field, but at the same time I'm making sure my quality of life after football is also going to be something that's not struggling.'
"So I think guys are balancing that out. I think it's a tough call. You know, it's an easier call when the NFL makes it for you. But when you have to make that call yourself and say, 'OK, is it time to get out of here?' It's tough, but you think down the line, when I'm 40-50 years old, I have a family that needs me around and needs me coherent to be able to function and so that really weighs into the decision-making."
Football is a dangerous game. We all know that at this point, the players better than anyone else. Offensive and defensive linemen, what with their close-quarters combat on every snap, know it better than most. It's obviously a very personal choice whether to keep playing or not, and either choice is perfectly valid. DeVito had some help making his decision. Here's hoping he, his wife, and their children live happily now that he's done suiting up on Sundays.