Many of the players who have walked away from the NFL while they’re still young and healthy are casualties of the growing awareness of the long-term danger from multiple concussions and repetitive hits that jostle the brain, but tight end Jordan Cameron sees more complex reasons at work.
“I don’t think a lot of these guys love football, to be honest,” Cameron, who recently announced his retirement, told ESPN. “A lot of them don’t. You play for other reasons, and every guy has their own reason. They know why, and as long as your why is really important, you keep playing without really loving football. Because really, who loves to get hit in 10-degree weather by a 280-pound person? Really, no one likes that. ‘Do you love football?’ I couldn’t stand when people asked me that.”
Cameron, a 28-year-old tight end who played for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, said he had suffered four concussions over his six-year career and did not cite them as a reason for retiring. However, his awareness changed his feelings for the game. “You’re playing physical and you’re playing an intense, violent game,” Cameron said. “You have to gear yourself up for that, but it’s hard to gear yourself up if you’re thinking about getting hit or what the implications might be.”
He may have enjoyed the competition and grew close to many teammates, but love for a game that made him a multimillionaire is another matter.
“Do you really love football?” he said. “A lot of guys don’t really love it. There’s a few guys that love it. Ray Lewis loves football. Peyton Manning. They love it. But a lot of guys don’t really love this game, and there are players that will read this who will understand exactly what I’m talking about.”