In a statement posted Sunday to his Twitter account, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor cited the “risk of paralysis” in indicating that his NFL career was over. The four-time Pro Bowler and “Legion of Boom” member suffered a season-ending neck injury during a game in November, and he said in his statement that “God has given me a sign that I just can’t ignore.”
Chancellor had reportedly been scheduled to undergo scans on his injuries in June and apparently the news was not encouraging. “My final test showed no healing,” he said. ” … Time for the next chapter.”
“To walk away from the game by choice is one thing, to walk away from the game because of the risk of paralysis is another,” Chancellor added.
The 30-year-old Virginia Tech product did not specifically announce his retirement, and there could be financial reasons for that. Chancellor has a guaranteed salary of $6.2 million for this season and has an injury guarantee for his salary of more than $5 million in 2019, which he would give up if he formally retired.
The Seahawks may work out a settlement with Chancellor to allow them to release him with less of a hit on their salary cap, but the team could not have been shocked by his announcement. In January, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said that Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril, who suffered his own neck injury in Week 4, were “going to have a hard time playing football again.”
The Seahawks released Avril in May, part of a roster overhaul that took many stalwarts from the team’s long-feared defense. Star cornerback Richard Sherman, who tore his Achilles in the same game in which Chancellor got hurt, was waived in March and landed with the 49ers, while defensive end Michael Bennett was traded to the Eagles.
A fifth-round pick in 2010, Chancellor quickly, and quite literally, made a strong impression, and he moved into Seattle’s starting lineup the following season. That year also saw the team draft Sherman in the fifth round, and along with free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Brandon Browner, they formed the “Legion of Boom” secondary that was at the forefront of the team’s unprecedented run of success.
Browner left in free agency after the 2014 season following the Seahawks’ destruction of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, and his cornerback spot became something of a revolving door, leaving Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman most associated with the “LOB” moniker. All three could be gone from the team this season if Thomas’s stalled contract negotiations lead the team to trade him away, as some are speculating.
Known for laying big hits on opposing receivers, including the likes of Vernon Davis and Demaryius Thomas, Chancellor has suffered at least one known concussion, and he alluded to more episodes of brain trauma in his statement. “Pray for your boy,” he said. “I have no clue how these head injuries will go after the game.”
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