Chris Borland says he'll pay back most of signing bonus to 49ers

Chris Borland, who retired over concerns about head injuries, says he plans to pay back most of signing bonus

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who announced his retirement from the NFL last week at age 24, says he plans to pay back most of the signing bonus he received from the team.

Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Borland said he would pay back three-fourths of the $617,436 signing bonus he received from the 49ers last year. That means he's giving up $463,077.

Borland signed a four-year deal with the 49ers after he was drafted 77th overall by the team last year.

Borland said he wasn't second-guessing his decision to part with the money.

"To play one year, it's not a cash grab as I've been accused of," he said "I'm paying back three-fourths of my signing bonus. I'm only taking the money I've earned."

Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the 49ers have the right to recover the signing bonus. The team hasn't said publicly whether they were planning to collect the money.

Borland announced his retirement on March 16, saying the potential health risks associated with football were too great for him to continue in the sport. He said his decision was based primarily on the risk of sustaining a brain injury that would severely affect the quality of his life.

"This to me is just about health and nothing else," Borland said. "I've never played the game for money or attention. I love football. I've had a blast and I don't regret the last 10 years of my life at all. I'd do it over the exact same way. From here on I'm looking forward."

Borland told ESPN last week he had been intent on pursuing a professional football career after leaving Wisconsin. His mind-set began to change after he took a hit from 6-foot-4, 293-pound fullback Will Tukuafu while trying to make a tackle in a preseason practice. Borland said the hit left him feeling like "you're in a fog, like you're not quite yourself."

Borland said he then started to question whether it was worth pursuing a lucrative football career.

"I just don't want to get in a situation where I'm negotiating my health for money," he said. "Who knows how many hits is too many?"

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World