In the coming days, it is expected that San Diego Chargers’ starting left guard Kris Dielman is expected to announce his retirement from the NFL at the age of 31.
On its face, the news of a football player – especially a lineman – retiring at such a young age is nothing new. It happens every season; hell, it happens just about every week of every season. Players get released, or relegated to practice squad purgatory, or injured, and decide to move on with their lives rather than try to catch on with another team. But this case is unique, in that Dielman is likely retiring due to a blatant example of his team not looking out for his welfare.
Kris Dielman is a former All-Pro left guard for the Chargers. He had been with the team since 2003, and had made four Pro Bowls. You may remember Dielman’s name popping up during the 2011 season as the player who clearly (at least “clear” to announcers, fans and anyone with a working pair of eyes – even Jim Nantz, calling the game for CBS, said during the telecast that Dielman was “a little shaky and wobbly” as he tried to regain his footing) suffered a concussion during the Chargers game against the New York Jets. Dielman was staggered on the field after a helmet-to-helmet hit. He could barely walk off the field, and it appeared obvious that he needed to sit for a while, if not the rest of the game.
But because he waived off team medical staff and was not checked for a concussion, he missed exactly zero plays in the game after the hit. In fact, he wasn’t checked for a concussion until after the game was over, even though the hit happened with more than twelve minutes to go in regulation, and Dielman spent plenty of time on the sidelines between Chargers’ possessions. After the game, during the cross-country flight back to San Diego, Dielman suffered what was termed a “violent grand mal seizure” on the flight, and was placed on season ending IR before the Chargers’ next game.
Now, it appears that because his concussion was missed by team doctors, or ignored by Chargers coaches, or even hidden by Dielman himself, he will never play another day in the NFL. He has chosen (correctly, in my opinion) not to risk his health in the chase of the brass ring, instead focusing on his wife and two kids. It’s a shame that his career is ending so soon, as he had to promise and potential for a much longer run in the NFL. But at least he is walking away on his own terms.
At least he’s walking at all.