The Denver Broncos are 7-1 and are a Super Bowl favorite, but that wasn’t enough for John Moffitt.
The rest of his life matters more. The Broncos’ 27-year-old backup guard decided he had grown tired of risking his health for a game he no longer loved and decided not to return to the team when its bye week ended Monday, the Associated Press reported. He phoned the team from his Seattle home, then tweeted about his decision to leave about $1 million on the table:
Football was fun but my head hurts-haha kidding roger goodell. I'm on to new things, thanks to everyone along the way!!!
— John Moffitt (@Moffitt74) November 5, 2013
“I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all,” he told the AP. “And I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness for money. Everybody, they just don’t get it and they think it’s crazy. But I think what I was doing is crazy…I don’t care about the Super Bowl. I don’t. I used to.
“I mean, any time I played this game, I gave my heart to it and I’m a person that does things with his heart…I don’t need the Super Bowl experience. I played in great stadiums and I played against great players. And I had that experience and it’s enough… How much do you really need? What do you want in life? And I decided that I don’t really need to be a millionaire.”
Moffitt’s decision, he says, is based partly on reading the Dalai Lama and Noam Chomsky and partly on the desire to spend more time with his girlfriend and 5-year-old daughter. He hopes to produce live radio shows and podcasts — and to weigh significantly less than the 300-plus pounds required of an NFL lineman.
“I just want to be happy. And I find that people that have the least in life are sometimes the happiest. And I don’t have the least in life. I have enough in life,” he told the AP. “And I won’t sacrifice my health for that.”
Moffitt was the 75th pick in the 2011 draft by the Seattle Seahawks and started in 15 games over those two seasons. He was traded to the Broncos in August and had been inactive in six of eight games. The long-term effect of playing football, in light of increasing evidence about the dangers from repeated hits to the head was a factor for Moffitt, just as it was for Jacob Bell of the Cincinnati Bengals shortly after Junior Seau’s suicide in the spring of 2012.
“Scientists do know that hits to the head do deteriorate your brain,” he told a Denver radio station (via the Denver Post).
The team has five days in which to formally release him. He signed a four-year contract for nearly $3 million after he was drafted.