The biggest play of A.J. Tarpley's career will also be his last. Undrafted out of Stanford a year ago, Tarpley, an outside linebacker, spent the 2015 season with the Bills where he appeared in 14 games (two starts) and logged five tackles, two passes defended, a sack and this interception, the one that dashed the Jets' playoff hopes in the regular-season finale:
On Wednesday, Tarpley, 23, announced that he's retiring after just one season because of concussions.
"The only thing comforting about not knowing this play would be the last of my career, is knowing that I never took a second for granted," he wrote on Instagram. "After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the third and fourth concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health.
"This decision is the hardest I've made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it's what is best for me going forward. I'd like to extend my gratitude to everyone that helped me along the way. Thank you to my coaches at Wayzata and Stanford, and to lifelong friends that I was blessed to call teammates. You all molded me into the man I am today.
"To my family, I'll never be able to repay your unwavering support and love, I just hope that I can continue to show how gracious I am and make you proud. I also want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, coaches, and teammates for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream in the NFL. Last but not least, I'm proud to be a part of #BillsMafia and playing in front of the best fans in the league is something I won't forget. Thank you God for all that you have blessed me. I'm excited for my future."
A photo posted by A.J. Tarpley (@ajtarpley) onApr 6, 2016 at 5:21pm PDT
Tarpley's announcement comes days after former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, 24, who retired last offseason after just one NFL season, said that early retirement could become a trend in the NFL.
"Well, I think an old adage is that you play till the wheels fall off," Borland told the Detroit Free Press. "You play till you can't anymore. You have to be carried off the field. I think that'll change.
Last month, Husain Abdullah, 30, announced that he was retiring after seven NFL seasons, in part because of the concussions he suffered during his career.