Longtime 49ers left tackle Joe Staley admitted that injuries played a significant role in his decision to retire.
But the concern was even greater than he first acknowledged, and he said doctors told him continuing to play would have likely meant spinal fusion surgeries in the future.
During an interview on the Bussin’ With the Boys podcast co-hosted by Titans tackle Taylor Lewan, Staley detailed how bad the situation was during the Super Bowl.
“It was a bunch of stingers,” Staley said, via NBCSportsBayArea.com. “It got to the point where in the Super Bowl, I’d make contact with my head with anybody [and] I’d have — from the base of my head down to my back — I’d have just a zing and my arms would go numb. I had herniations at a bunch of different levels and really severe stenosis.”
When he retired, Staley mentioned “I’ve had neck stuff that’s been going on for a little bit,” but told Lewan that the news was more stark than that.
“[The doctor] was like, ‘If you’re going to continue to play football, you’re probably going to have to have fusion surgery on multiple levels,'” Staley said. “I was like, ‘I’m 35. I’ve got kids. I don’t want to not be able to turn my neck for the rest of my life.”
“When I went and saw these doctors, I realized how serious it was. They were like, ‘If you continue to play, you’re going to really do some long-term damage.'”
Staley held off publicizing the extent of his problems, allowing the 49ers to make a deal for his replacement Trent Williams. But it’s clear that he knew it was time to step away.