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Armond Armstead retires without ever playing a down in the NFL

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The spoils of retirement. Finally tapping into your 401K savings that you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Sipping margaritas on the beach. Basically enjoying life during your golden years, right? Not so for first-year New England Patriots defensive lineman Armond Armstead.

Armstead recently announced his retirement from the NFL at the ripe age of 23 years old.

Injury Stricken

Armstead, who signed with the Patriots last February after one season with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, dealt with a numerous medical conditions that ultimately kept him from ever stepping foot on the playing field. He suffered a heart attack in 2011 while at USC, which led to him going undrafted in the NFL. Armstead then went on to play in Canada, helping lead the Argonauts to the Grey Cup during his only season with the team.

Armstead developed an infection after surgery before the start of last season’s training camp with the Patriots and was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. While the team and fans waited for a full recovery, it never materialized and forced Armstead to make his decision on an early retirement.

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College Controversy

Armstead sued USC in 2012, contending that painkilling injections administered by team doctors caused the heart attack and damaged his chances for an NFL career. At question is the non-steroidal drug Toradol and its possible side effects. The case is set to go to trial in March 2015 according to Armstead’s attorney Roger Dreyer.

“Ultimately, his inability to play in the NFL is, we believe, directly related to that circumstance,” Dreyer said.

During his sophomore season, Armstead was treated with Toradol by USC doctors after breaking his foot. He suffered a shoulder sprain in 2010 and was again treated with the drug. Less than a year later, Armstead began having chest pains and was administered Toradol by the staff at University Park Health Center.

The University Park Health Center and James Tibone, the Trojans' team physician, and an unnamed pharmaceutical company are named as defendants in a 38-page lawsuit that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Big Play Potential

Before suffering the heart attack, Armstead was a solid all-around player. In his three seasons at USC, he totaled 59 career tackles in 17 starts. He came highly recruited out of Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, California, amassing numerous honors including the Sacramento Bee All-Metro and All-Metro League MVP.

This led to the Patriots taking a chance on the young, injury-prone player.

“I don’t think it’s very often that an NFL team can get a first-round pick without using a first-round pick,” Argonauts GM Jim Barker said of the 6-5, 280-pound Armstead.

Moving On

Affectionately known as “The Sasquatch” by Patriots fans and media alike for his rare appearances both on the field and in the locker room, the Armstead experiment has officially come to its end.

The New England Patriots will now have to move on without Armstead, whom they hoped would be a disruptive pass-rusher in Coach Belichick’s defense. With the NFL now in his rear-view mirror, Armstead must now also move on towards his sudden early retirement.

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