John Carlson explains his decision to retire from NFL

Jul 23, 2015, 6:17 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

John Carlson did not make much of an impact in his lone season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Signed to a two-year contract in March 2014, a player noted for his ability as a receiver caught 33 passes for 350 yards and one touchdown.

But while his initial season in the desert may have been underwhelming, he was still expected to return in 2015 and lead what was otherwise an inexperienced group of tight ends.

Then, on May 5, he abruptly announced his retirement from the NFL.

The decision seemed to come as a surprise to the Cardinals. In a statement, Carlson said there was much thought and consideration put into it, and that he was excited for the next phase of his life and what was ahead.

In a story written by Chip Scoggins of, the 31-year-old — who also played for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings — gave explained more in depth why he walked away from the game.

“It was clear already that I didn’t have that same passion and love for the game that I had in the past,” said Carlson, the Litchfield native and former Vikings tight end.

Carlson added he got to a point where the dangers of playing football, which have been more and more talked about over the last few years, also played a role. He had dealt with concussions in the past, and made the decision that at this point in his life, football wasn’t worth the risk.

Instead, he wanted to spend more time with his family, including his three young children. Ultimately that meant more to him than continuing to play.

“I think once that switch turns off in your head,” he said, “I don’t believe the game is safe to play anymore.”

All that said, Carlson admitted that while he feels good about the decision now, things could change when September comes and the games are happening. He added he knows that could be an issue, but that there’s no going back.

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