PLYMOUTH, Minn. (KMSP) - 23-year-old A.J. Tarpley, former football star at Wayzata High School, announced Wednesday he's retiring from the NFL after playing one season with the Buffalo Bills, citing concussions.
"This decision is the hardest I've made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it's what is best for me going forward," he wrote on social media.
The linebacker's early retirement illustrates growing concerns over traumatic brain injuries sustained by playing football, and an increase in preventative actions being taken.
"After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the third and fourth concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health," Tarpley said.
Last year, he joined the Bills as an undrafted rookie from Stanford and played in 14 games. Tarpley finished his collegiate career with 243 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 5.0 sacks and four interceptions in 54 games played.
Tarpley's entire post to Instagram and Facebook:
"The only thing comforting about not knowing this play would be the last of my career, is knowing that I never took a second for granted.
After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health.
This decision is the hardest I've made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it's what is best for me going forward.
I'd like to extend my gratitude to everyone that helped me along the way. Thank you to my coaches at Wayzata and Stanford, and to lifelong friends that I was blessed to call teammates. You all molded me into the man I am today.
To my family, I'll never be able to repay your unwavering support and love, I just hope that I can continue to show how gracious I am and make you proud.
I also want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, coaches, and teammates for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream in the NFL. Last but not least, I'm proud to be a part of #BillsMafia and playing in front of the best fans in the league is something I won't forget.
Thank you God for all that you have blessed me 🙏. I'm excited for my future."