A.J. Tarpley spent one season with the Buffalo Bills, fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing football at the highest level. It’s a game he dearly loves. Tarpley quit after that single season because he wants to remember it — and because he doesn’t want to live his life the way players like NFL legend Joe Montana must when their playing days are behind them. (Montana has had three “neck fusions” and that’s just a start.)
Tarpley isn’t leaving a league that didn’t have room for him either — despite going undrafted he played in 14 games for the Bills. (He retires with two interceptions.) Tarpley says he “suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions” of his career during his single NFL campaign. He called his decision to retire “the hardest I’ve ever made,” arriving at it after “much research and contemplation.” Research and contemplation — as well as taking care of one’s brain — are high priorities at Stanford University, where Tarpley spent four years. He is 23 years old.
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The only thing comforting about not knowing this play would be the last of my career, is knowing that I never took a second for granted. After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health. This decision is the hardest I’ve made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it’s what is best for me going forward. I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone that helped me along the way. Thank you to my coaches at Wayzata and Stanford, and to lifelong friends that I was blessed to call teammates. You all molded me into the man I am today. To my family, I’ll never be able to repay your unwavering support and love, I just hope that I can continue to show how gracious I am and make you proud. I also want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, coaches, and teammates for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream in the NFL. Last but not least, I’m proud to be a part of #BillsMafia and playing in front of the best fans in the league is something I won’t forget. Thank you God for all that you have blessed me ?. I’m excited for my future.