Erick Ainge To Retire From Football After One Injury Plagued Season With The New York Jets

In somewhat surprising news, Erik Ainge told the Associated Press on Thursday night that he would be giving up his pursuit of a football career and moving on from the game. Ainge, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 Draft, saw his career get off to a rocky start his first month in the league. Ainge underwent surgery in May of that year on the pinky finger of his throwing hand. That proved to be minor compared to the lingering issues he had with his right foot. He had surgery in January but apparently the pain still lingers. Ainge also learned he had a torn rotator cuff. Add it all up and it was too much to overcome physically:

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"This isn't the step I wanted, but it's the hand I'm dealt," Ainge said. "There's nothing I'd love more than to come back to New Jersey when the lockout's over and compete for a job and be around those guys and their families. I miss them as people, but it's just not in the cards physically right now."

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Before anybody even thinks to themselves: 'Why give up now? You're only 25?' Well, that's true, but Ainge also is recovering from a long battle with substance abuse. He twice violated the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy dating back to 2008, and only until this past 12 months has he been able to stay sober. Ainge believes giving up the game will help him stay strong with his recovery:

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"One of the things I've been working on in my recovery is acceptance, and to be honest, I need to accept that I want to be able to play baseball with my kids when I'm 35. I don't want to be limping the rest of my life."

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One might wonder if being around a team setting where there's myriad watchful eyes on you is a healthy support structure for Ainge. I'd like to think it would be. But at the same time, Ainge isn't exactly getting to do much other than work out and experience the physical pain that comes along with training. Hopefully the man finds something else to keep him engaged and motivated professionally so he can stay clean.

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