The NFL is as popular as it has ever been in this country.
In fact, since the calamitous kickoff to the 2020 season (largely related to polarizing social justice initiatives), the league has truly turned things around and now produces some of the most widely viewed programming to appear on American television.
Despite that, the NFL may have a new headache on its hand, as there appears to be a bubbling unpopularity for the sport among a rather important demographic — actual NFL players.
The latest abrupt retirement from the NFL comes courtesy of now-former Los Angeles Chargers safety Nasir Adderley.
The former University of Delaware standout posted the retirement announcement to his Instagram account on Thursday.
View this post on Instagram
“After a period of self reflection, I have decided that it’s time for me to walk away from the game of football,” Adderley wrote.
It’s key to point out that Adderley isn’t a 15-year veteran who’s finally decided to hang up his cleats — he’s a 25-year-old man just about to enter his physical prime (or at least what’s considered the prime of pro athletes.)
“Over the past couple of years I have denied this realization,” Adderley continued. “But, I’m finally going to put myself first for once. My health is above anything and everyone around me knows that.”
Later in the retirement announcement, Adderley made it clear that when he was talking about his “health,” he speaking far more about mental health than physical health.
“My purpose involves spending more time with my loved ones, business ownership and chasing my passion of true liberation,” Adderley said, while also noting that, “I don’t belong an employee.”
“I believe I have yet to scratch the surface of the player I could be, but if it’s at the expense of my peace of mind then it’s no longer for me,” Adderley added.
Adderley, a former second-round NFL draft pick, is the second warm-weather NFL defensive back to retire in as many months — albeit for vastly different reasons.
Fellow recent retiree Byron Jones, 30, the now-former Miami Dolphins cornerback, abruptly called it quits in February due to his numerous injuries mounting up to long-term, chronic pain.
To be clear, this is hardly an existential crisis for the NFL, but it’s hard to deny the number of younger NFL stars retiring early — especially in recent years.
Before Jones and Adderley, one of the most prominent abrupt retirements came from former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who retired in 2019 at the age of 29. As a frame of reference, recently retired superstar quarterback Tom Brady still had 16 seasons of quarterbacking ahead of him when he turned 29.
Former Carolina Panthers superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly gave a heartfelt retirement announcement in 2020 at the tender age of only 28:
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
Detroit Lions star Calvin “Megatron” Johnson retired at only 30 years of age in 2015, though he has long since confirmed that had as much to do with the woeful Lions as it did with physical ailments.
Again, these aren’t nobodies who are abruptly calling it a career. You could put together a pretty good team with a core of Luck, Johnson, Kuechly and Jones (all in their respective primes.)
As for Adderley, he leaves a Chargers team that will be looking to build on a playoff berth that ended in an agonizing 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round last year.
While Adderley, by his own admission, never quite reached his potential, he was still a key player for the Chargers, starting 44 games over histhree years in Los Angeles.
Between Adderley’s abrupt retirement and Derwin James Jr.’s perpetual health concerns, the Chargers may very well use the 21st overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft on a safety.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.