Since the 2014 NFL season came to an end back in February we have seen a number of players walk away from the game they love due to health reasons.
Quarterback Jake Locker quit after persistent knee injuries, whilst San Francisco 49ers duo Patrick Willis and Chris Boreland called time on their NFL careers having cited fears over their long-term health.
This time, though, there was no other option available to Minnesota Vikings guard Austin Wentworth - a frightening 15 minutes back in March leading to a discovery that has now ended his NFL career, and could very nearly have ended his life.
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Wentworth appeared in seven games for the Vikings in 2014 and the franchise were expecting to see him challenge for a starting guard spot in the upcoming campaign. Instead though the 25-year-old was waived by the franchise last Thursday and his retirement has now been confirmed after just one year in the NFL.
Losing it all
“I came home and my legs went completely numb,” Wentworth, speaking to the Pioneer Press, said on the moment his life changed. “It was all within 15 minutes. My legs started tingling and went completely numb, and I couldn’t walk.”
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After being rushed to hospital, doctors discovered Wentworth had tissue clots in his legs that were severely restricting blood flow. Surgery quickly followed, and although the clots were addressed, it has left the young player requiring a leg brace for the rest of his life having lost a key muscle that controls the "up motion" of his foot.
Wentworth revealed how doctors had to perform a double fasciotomy during which time he lost so much blood in his left calf that the muscle effectively died.
Despite the double blow of losing both his profession and his ability to walk unassisted, the now former Vikings man is trying to remain positive:
“The doctors said that if one of these clots had gone up instead of gone down in my leg, it would have killed me instantly...You can be upset about your leg or you can be happy you’re alive.”
Promising career ended
Having arrived in Minnesota as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State, Wentworth made rapid progression up the draft chart in his first year in the league and was hoping to challenge Joe Berger for the vacant starting left guard spot.
Instead he is facing up to life without football but says that the Minnesota Vikings have been hugely supportive despite having to let him go. They want him to visit during spring training and the likes of GM Rick Spielman and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson have been in touch.