NFL linebacker retires at 26 after spine injury


Persistent spine issues led former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch to retire after six seasons, the NFL reported March 18.

The 26-year-old had trouble with neck pain since his sophomore year at Boise State University in Idaho, and he spent his career wearing a cowboy collar, the report said. He still suffered a nerve issue in his second NFL season and had corrective surgery for it. 

In 2022, a neck injury kept him out of four NFL games, and his season was shortened because of a neck issue in 2023.

Mr. Vander Esch isn't the only NFL player to retire young after spine issues in recent years. New York Jets offensive lineman Cameron Clark retired at 24 after a spinal cord injury sidelined him for the 2021 season.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers