Concussion concerns led Michigan’s Jack Miller to retire

Jack Miller is one of a growing number of football players to quit in their early 20s because of greater understanding of the link between concussions and life-altering brain damage.

Mike Carter

Michigan center Jack Miller has revealed his reasons for leaving the program, and it turned out to have nothing to do with the new coaching staff.

Miller, who was expected to be the anchor of the offensive line before suddenly retiring earlier this month, told ESPN that he made the decision because of concern over brain injuries. Miller had originally only said that he wanted to focus on finishing his degree and explore business opportunities.

Instead, it turns out that Miller is one of a growing number of football players to quit in their early 20s because of greater understanding of the link between concussions and life-altering brain damage.

"I know I’ve had a few and it’s nice walking away before things could’ve gotten worse," Miller said. "And yes, multiple schools have reached out. But I’m ready to walk away from it. My health and happiness is more important than a game."

Miller said that he suffered at least one concussion in high school and multiple head injuries at Michigan, although like many players, he did not report all of them to the coaching staff.

"I wanted to keep playing," Miller said. "You’re supposed to be tough in this game, everyone carries that attitude."

Last season, though, Miller was on the field when Shane Morris was allowed to stay in the game after sustaining a head injury, and then sent back into the game without a medical examination. He also has family reasons to be concerned — his brother Matt retired for the same reason before playing a single game at Wisconsin.

He’s also not sure if he would want his own kids to take up the game that his family has loved so much.

"Football has taught me so much about life, it’s incredible how much I’ve learned from it. That’s why my dad ultimately wanted me to play the game at a young age, then we found out I was good," he said. "But is it worth the potential injury? Really tough call."

In the short term, Miller’s departure leaves Michigan with a large hole on the offensive line. In the long run, though, he could be part of a wave of young players leaving the game that would force football to take serious measures to combat brain issues.