Jacob Bell Quits NFL Football

11:43 AM, May 16, 2012   |    comments
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Los Angeles-- More than 3,000 pro football players, past and present, are suing the National Football League, claiming the NFL deliberately concealed information about the long-term effects of repeated hits to the head.

Offensive lineman Jacob Bell is not part of that case, but he's so concerned about head trauma that he's giving up football. After 8 years in the league, Bell retired in his prime.

These days, his focus is on staying fit, keeping healthy, and recovering from past injuries. "The first time you sprain your ankle, you're thrown off," Bell says.

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But the injury that concerns him most is one he's not even sure he has - an injury to his brain. "We're now seeing that there is clear-cut proof that the trauma incurred during football leads to problems later in life," Bell says.

It takes a big man to walk away from the fame and fortune of pro football.

But at the age of 31, the six-foot-five, 270 pound guard is doing just that.

This year, after four seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Bell signed with the Cincinnati Bengals for nearly $1 million - a steep pay cut from the $3 million a year he was making with the Rams. But he was playing the game he loved.

Then, like the rest of the NFL, he was shocked by the suicide of former star linebacker Junior Seau.

"It's kind of like an eye opener," Bell remarked. "We realized, you know, the game has an effect on you. And we don't know exactly all the things he was going through, his personal life or other factors that played into it, but we can imagine that football may have had some kind of a role in that."

Especially since scientists now link repetitive head injuries to chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- or CTE. The disease, which causes depression and early-onset dementia, was discovered in the brain of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson after he killed himself in the same manner as Seau -- a gunshot to his chest.

In his suicide note, Duerson asked that his brain be donated to science to study whether the brutality of football was responsible for his mental problems.


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