Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
Bruce Arians spoke about Jake Ballard's retirement on Thursday (via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN and Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com:
Bruce Arians said Jake Ballard's last MRI showed bone on bone in his knee.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) August 7, 2014
Arians on Ballard: "I was in pain watching him try to get through practice." #CardsCamp— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) August 7, 2014
After four NFL seasons with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, tight end Jake Ballard announced his retirement Wednesday.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Ballard revealed in a statement that he hasn't been the same player since injuring his knee in 2012.
Yesterday I made the difficult decision to retire from the game of football. I love this game and have put my heart and soul into it for as long as I can remember. After sustaining a serious knee injury while playing for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, my body never felt the same. Having a quality of life after football is very important to me and I have witnessed it taken away from others. I will miss the game tremendously, but I am ready for this next chapter in my life. It was an honor and a privilege to play for the NY Giants, New England Patriots, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals. I met amazing people from all of my teammates, to opponents, to trainers, to coaches, to owners, and everyone in between. I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your fraternity and I wish you all nothing but success.
Ballard also commented on his Twitter account after the announcement:
Thanks for all the support! The pain was just too much. I had to start thinking about my future! I've been blessed! #ontothenextone— Jake ballard (@TheJakeBallard) August 6, 2014
The 26-year-old Ohio State product was in line to perhaps win the Cards' starting tight end job, but he clearly didn't feel as though continuing his career was worth the substantial risks that would have come along with doing so.
His retirement came at a fairly surprising time considering the fact that training camp has already begun. As pointed out by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated, though, young and talented players retiring from the NFL has almost become commonplace as of late:
Another promising career cut down early. RT @RavensInsider: Tight end Jake Ballard announces his retirement— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) August 6, 2014
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 was among those who were disappointed by the unfortunate news:
Damn, now Cards TE Jake Ballard announces his retirement. Too many good guys I've covered calling it a career lately. Best to him.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 6, 2014
Ballard truly burst onto the scene in his second NFL season back in 2011. He served as the Giants' starter and racked up 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots and never returned to that level of play.
Are you surprised by Ballard's decision to retire?
He would go on to be claimed off waivers by the Pats in 2012 but never played a game for them, as he spent the season on the physically unable to perform list. Ballard then caught on with Arizona last season but played in only three games, tallying just seven receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Had Ballard never suffered that knee injury, there is no telling how good he could have become. He was already approaching a Pro Bowl level of play during his second season, and one can only assume that he would have continued to improve.
It would have been interesting to witness Ballard's road to a full recovery in 2014 and beyond, but he deserves a great deal of respect for thinking about life after football.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.