Odell Beckham Jr. knows Chris Borland. The two players, one current and one former, were in the same 2014 NFL draft class, and Beckham remembers an interception made by the once-promising San Francisco 49ers linebacker had in a game against his team, the New York Giants, last season.
But he didn't know it was Borland who surprised the football world this year when he announced, at just 24, that he had decided to walk away from the NFL, citing a fear of long-term brain injury.
Asked about Borland's retirement, Beckham was honest in saying he didn’t know it was Borland who had decided to leave the league for health-related reasons.
It was clear the star wide receiver was a rattled upon finding out about Borland's early exit from the sport.
"Oh, that was him who left? The rookie?" Beckham told The Huffington Post. "Oh, man. I didn't know that was him who left."
"Wow," he added. "That's just crazy. It's like you get to the league and you chase your dream. This is what you've wanted to do all your life and then you get there and you can have something that ends it all for you right then and there."
It’s a raw reaction from a young, promising player who is clearly already thinking about the dangers of the sport he loves. At a separate point in the interview, Beckham detailed why he believes NFL players should be paid more, citing the same fears and dangers that led his fellow draftee to retire.
"There’s injuries that you have after you leave the game, brain injuries, whatever it is, nerve injuries," he said. "And it’s just something that I feel as if there’s no way someone who -- even if they did their three or four years in the league -- should have to worry about money for the rest of their lives."
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