When the Colts players reported to Anderson University for training camp on Tuesday, there was one player missing. Running back Tyler Varga didn’t show up for camp, and we soon found out that it was because he had decided to retire.
Yesterday, he spoke with WTHR’s Bob Kravitz about that decision and how the serious concussion he suffered last year ultimately prompted his decision to hang it up. As he said, it wasn’t worth the risk for him.
"In the end, you just have to weigh the risk versus reward, do a cost/benefit analysis, and I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the risk," Varga told Kravitz yesterday. "I didn’t want to risk another big one and having it impact my quality of life down the road. It was a difficult decision; it always is when you work so hard toward a goal and finally reach that goal, but after a long period of reflection, I felt like this was the best decision for my future."
His agent told Kravitz that Varga is thinking long-term about how he’ll feel when he’s older, and he doesn’t want to risk the concussion after-effects.
"People shouldn’t be surprised when they hear about players retiring young," Varga added. "You’re seeing it more and more often these days. Players are far more educated now about the risks involved in playing football. Guys are more aware of the risks involved."
Of course, not every player is like Tyler Varga, who graduated from Yale and will be set post-retirement anyways. It’s awesome that he’s able to do that, however, and head coach Chuck Pagano respected his decision, saying yesterday that he’s not going to question anyone’s decision to retire.
“I respect everybody’s decision when it comes to health and player safety,” Pagano said. “I listen to our doctors, I listen to our players and so I totally respect his decision and anybody’s decision to do whatever they want to do.”
At the same time, Pagano had high hopes for Varga and hates to see him retire due to the concussion.
“It’s an unfortunate thing because Tyler finally got back and got himself well,” Pagano said. “Physically he was in phenomenal shape, he looked like the same guy a year ago at training camp that as a college free agent makes this team. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out because he had a great offseason through every phase. He didn’t miss a beat and he went all the way through OTAs. It’s just an unfortunate thing.”
Varga’s battle in recovering from his concussion is well-documented, and I don’t think anyone can blame him for ultimately deciding to hang it up and retire. Luckily for him, he’s got plenty to fall back on as a graduate of Yale, but unfortunately not everyone has such a fall-back plan. For Varga, though, we wish him the best in retirement as he ultimately decided to walk away from the game early rather than risk further injury.