Originally reported by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, Cincinnati Bengals guard Jacob Bell retired on Tuesday.
"In the NFL we’re modern-day gladiators and we sell our soul to the game
of football for a price, but what is that price?," Bell asked in a conversation with Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Everyone has a price and for me I wanted to make sure that I don’t have any regrets about my future in regards to what I’ve done in the NFL.
"At this point I can walk away with no regrets and left on my own terms where the NFL didn’t force me out and I made that decision on my own. There were a lot of factors and discussions with my family and myself and I think it was the right decision to be made."
Bell, 31, began his NFL career as a fifth round pick out of Miami (Ohio) by the Tennessee Titans in 2004. The Cleveland, Ohio native spent four seasons in Nashville, starting 46 of 55 games before signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the St. Louis Rams in 2008. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound guard started 42 games over his first three seasons in St. Louis, but took a steep pay cut to remain with the Rams in 2011.
Bell started 12 games last season before he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. As part of his restructure last August, the final two seasons of his contract were wiped off the books, making Bell an unrestricted free agent on March 13. Bell signed a one-year, $890,000 contract with the Bengals, but was not assured of a starting role and the money was no longer worth the future health risks.
"I played under a guy, Mike Munchak in Tennessee, and I used to watch him as he was running around the practice field for a half hour before practice, and I'd see the way he'd run," Bell told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He played 13 seasons, he played all 13 seasons with no cartilage in his knees. And I thought to myself, I don't want to look like that. I don't want to be at the point where I'm jeopardizing my true health for money pretty much. For money and for celebrity.
"If you're telling me 'I'm seeing stars' is some sort of concussion, then you're getting a couple a week. You're going to get a minimum 30 concussions in a season. That just gives you a ballpark figure of what people are truly dealing with."