Page 1 – Finally no more headaches
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Julius Thomas does not want anymore. He does not want to practice moves anymore. He does not want to lift more weights and analyze videos for hours. Thomas also does not want to follow meal plans and travel to away games. He no longer wants opponents to knock down. No more injuries he has to cure. The 30-year-old NFL pro finishes his career. And start a new one.
Thomas wants to push the school desk again, as he says himself. His plan: to do a doctorate in psychology to study brain trauma in NFL players. He also wants to explore if there are any ways to detect brain diseases early in contact sports.
"Football carries serious cognitive risks," writes Thomas in his letter of resignation on The Player's Tribune. "I do not just want to look at these risks from a psychologist's point of view, but also from the perspective of a former player who has played at the highest level for several years."
Big and heavy, but also athletic Julius Thomas came to the NFL in 2011, the Denver Broncos secured the rights to the then 23-year-old player. Thomas had a superstar quarterback in the team with Peyton Manning. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the Tight End scored twelve touchdowns each, making Thomas one of the top players in his position.
The role as a tight end is playfully very demanding. He puts himself on the offensive line, which protects the quarterback, and must be able to block the heavy opponents from the defensive line. At the same time he is also used as a ball carrier and pass receiver, so he must be ball safe and fast. Previously, a tight end had to be either one or the other. Meanwhile, the teams demand that a player unite both. The Philadelphia Eagles, who won the Superbowl last season, even use several tight ends at once.
These players must be tall and heavy, but also athletic and fast. Like Thomas. He is 1.96 meters tall and weighs 112 kilograms. If he catches a pass, he can hardly be stopped in a duel against man. For seven years he blocked opponents and caught passes, played after four years at the Denver Broncos still another second in the Jacksonville Jaguars and a season at the Miami Dolphins.
Thomas liked this life, he loved football. But he also thought and reflected a lot. "I was focused on material things: cars, houses, paychecks," says the 30-year-old. "At last I had it all, but there was something missing, when I was completely honest with myself, I realized: these things are not making you happy.
"I learned: No matter what you have, and no matter what other people think about you, happiness depends on how you define it," writes Thomas. "I realized that I lived my life just to be the best footballer, otherwise there was nothing." His life as a professional athlete but have suppressed other facets of his personality. To change that, he began to read books, including Socrates and Martin Luther King.