Former Bills, Patriots WR Donald Jones Retires at Age 25 Due to Kidney Disease

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystAugust 7, 2013

It's a sad fact of life in the NFL, but it's not all that unusual for an NFL player's career to be cut short by injuries. Just recently, Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best was released by the team, his promising career derailed by concussions.

However, the case of former Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots wide receiver Donald Jones is unusual, in that it wasn't an injury in the conventional sense that ended his playing days.

The 25-year-old, who played three seasons for the Buffalo Bills and had a cup of coffee with the New England Patriots in training camp this year, announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he is retiring from football due to the kidney ailment that has plagued him since birth.

As some of you may know, I have been suffering from a kidney disease throughout my entire life. As a result of recent advances in my disease, I am no longer able to pursue my career in the National Football League. Playing in the NFL was a lifelong dream of mine, and though I have the opportunity to continue my career, stepping away from the game is absolute best decision for my family and for my health.

The 6-foot, 208-pound Jones was a standout at Youngstown State, where he caught 77 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Jones wasn't selected in the 2010 NFL draft, but caught on with the Bills as an undrafted free agent.

Jones would spend the next three years in Western New York. He had the best season of his brief career in 2012, hauling in 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns.

That apparently wasn't enough production to merit a new contract in Buffalo, so Jones inked a three-year deal with the Patriots back in March.

It's really not surprising that the Patriots might have had interest in Jones, as he had the two best games of his career against New England. In Week 3 of the 2011 season, Jones had the lone 100-yard game of his career, reeling in five catches for 101 yards in an upset win by the Bills.

Jones once again burned the Patriots in their first meeting last year, catching two passes for 90 yards (including a career-best 68-yard touchdown) in a Week 4 loss.

However, Jones wasn't able to stick in New England and was released last month.

Whether that release had anything to do with Jones' kidney disease isn't known. What is known, according to Mike Garafalo of FOX Sports, is that Jones seriously began considering retirement after his blood pressure spiked dangerously during a recent physical with the Indianapolis Colts.

Jones, who will eventually require a kidney transplant, told Garafalo that his post-NFL plans include coaching high school football and increasing awareness both about kidney disease and the fact that professional athletes bear many of the same burdens as the people who watch them on TV.

People see athletes, celebrities and entertainers or things like that, especially athletes, they think sports is everything. They don't really realize people are dealing with the same issues. People have to realize people in the entertainment field have the same issues as normal people.

Jones wrestled with the decision somewhat, but after visiting with the Colts and Tennessee Titans and speaking to former NBA star Alonzo Mourning (who had a kidney transplant in 2003 and who has the same doctor as Jones), the choice apparently became an easy one.

I have to be smart," Jones said. "I have a son. I have to be here for my family."