John Carlson was knocked unconscious when his head slammed into the frozen ground at Soldier Field in playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears in 2011. It was just one of the concussions the Litchfield, Minnesota, native and former Vikings tight end suffered during his NFL career.
But fear of another head injury isn't what made Carlson retire in in May. He simply wanted to be a better husband to his wife and father to his three children.
“I know there are many people in many professions that that’s their reality [too],” Carlson told Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins. “But in football, our careers are condensed. I feel very fortunate to be able to play seven years and to have the flexibility to be able to say, it’s time to move on. Time to find something else that I’m passionate about that maybe works a little bit better for our family life.”
Carlson abruptly retired, walking away after an organized team activity with the Arizona Cardinals. He left a million dollars on the table and a bevy of other perks that come with playing professional football.
Carlson finished his career with 210 receptions for 2,256 yards and 15 touchdowns and is one of only 41 two-time Academic All-Americans to graduate from Notre Dame. He played for the Seahawks, Vikings and Cardinals in the NFL.
He's only 31 years old and now has a lot more time to spend with his children, all of whom are under the age of five.