On Saturday, NFL star cornerback Byron Jones of the Miami Dolphins abruptly announced his retirement from the game in a pair of tweets. He declared that he could no longer “run or jump” due to the injuries he sustained while playing, and he implied that he was leaving the sport for good.
Jones tweeted a warning about the pills and injections given to players for pain management, and he recommended consulting an outside doctor to learn about the long-term implications. Although he did not outright state it, Jones was clearly criticizing the NFL’s approach to injury management, and it’s worth noting that he missed the entire 2022 season due to injury.
Much has changed in 8 years. Today I can’t run or jump because of my injuries sustained playing this game. DO NOT take the pills they give you. DO NOT take the injections they give you. If you absolutely must, consult an outside doctor to learn the long-term implications. https://t.co/g5TTHDQGSY
— Byron Jones (@TheByronJones) February 25, 2023
Jones’s criticisms of the NFL’s pain management philosophy were particularly withering, and they drew more attention than similar comments made by other players in the past. While it’s not uncommon for NFL players to receive injections of cortisone or cocktails of painkillers to play through injuries, Jones’s warning was much more ominous. His comments were especially concerning because he is only 30 years old and has many years of life ahead of him.
Many fans had expected Jones to bounce back next year, given that he is still under contract for two more seasons and that the Dolphins paid him $82.5 million for a five-year deal. The Dolphins had high hopes for their star cornerback tandem of Jones and Xavien Howard, who has a five-year, $90 million contract, but the pair played a meager 30 total games together and did not win any playoff games. It remains to be seen if Jones will submit retirement papers to the league, but if he does, it’s unlikely that the Jones-Howard duo will ever play another game together.
Jones’s comments serve as a reminder of the physical toll that playing professional football can take on the body. The NFL has faced significant criticism in recent years for its handling of player injuries and its failure to provide adequate support for players dealing with chronic pain and long-term health issues.
Jones’s warning about pain management pills and injections is a clear indication that more needs to be done to address this issue. His decision to retire early is a stark reminder that the cost of playing football at a high level can be too high for some players, even those who are among the best in the league.