Quitting The N.F.L.: For John Moffitt, The Money Wasn’t Worth It

Source: Ken Belson / The New York Times

SEATTLE — John Moffitt chugged mugs of black coffee and talked almost giddily about how, the week before, he called John Elway, the head of football operations for the Denver Broncos, to tell him he was quitting the National Football League, leaving behind the money and the fame, but also the constant pain and the danger.

In parts of three seasons as a guard with the Seattle Seahawks and the Broncos, Moffitt, 27, blew out his knee, had elbow surgery and hurt his shoulders. Sleep apnea left him exhausted. Floaters cross his vision from all the hits to the head he absorbed in his nearly 20 years of playing football.

“I don’t want to risk health for money,” said Moffitt, who walked away from about $1 million in salary, various benefits for retirees who play at least three seasons and quite possibly a trip to the Super Bowl with the 9-1 Broncos. “I’m happy, and I don’t need the N.F.L.”

Most weeks, the departure of a player like Moffitt, who played sporadically and often anonymously on the offensive line, would have warranted barely a footnote among fans and general managers, and his spot on the roster would have been quickly filled by an eager replacement.

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