Former MSU football player Devin Thomas announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, in a somewhat surprising move, considering Thomas’ age and recent contract with the Chicago Bears.
Thomas, 25, is a former second-round pick of the Washington Redskins who averaged more than 24 yards per kick return last season in helping the New York Giants to a Super Bowl title.
In a message posted to his Twitter account, Thomas said the championship was part of the reason he decided to step away from the game.
“God has blessed me (with) achieving a childhood dream,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “I want to give back to my hometown and coach/mentor kids so they can reach their own.”
According to multiple media outlets, Thomas had previously expressed concerns about the physical toll of football and a desire to be healthy enough to play with his 4-year-old son, Devin Jr.
During a loss to the Redskins last season, Thomas collided with another player and lay motionless on the ground before being carted off the field with what appeared to be a neck injury.
The injury didn’t prove to be serious, but according to the New York Daily News, the experience proved to be an eye-opener for the former Spartan.
“What am I risking when I step onto the field?” Thomas told the New York Daily News. “Do I want to be in a position where I can’t play with my kids? Do I want to end up leaving the game with all kinds of brain damage where I can’t remember things? It’s a good time for me to step away.
“I’m at a good age where I’m still healthy. I had my own injuries that I can account to — when I almost thought I broke my neck, concussions … Everybody glorifies this game, says it’s so great. It’s definitely something (for which) people put you on a plateau. But they don’t understand the sacrifices you make personally. As a young man who understands the bigger picture, I know this game doesn’t define me.”
The New York Daily News also quotes Thomas as saying he plans to do community work in his hometown of Ann Arbor and will also return to MSU.
After only six receptions his sophomore season, Thomas had a breakout season for the Spartans the following year, setting school records in receptions, all-purpose yards and 100-yard receiving games.
He finished the season with 79 receptions, 1,260 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, before leaving school early to be drafted by the Redskins 34th overall.
During his four-year NFL career, Thomas totaled 43 receptions for 482 yards and three touchdowns, along with 60 kickoff returns for 1,445 yards.