Pac-12 starter suddenly forced to retire from football Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 01: Cameron Saffle #51 of the California Golden Bears celebrates after a play during their game against the Utah Utes at California Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Cameron Saffle reached athletic heights that many could never dream of, contributing at a high level as a linebacker for the California Golden Bears. Unfortunately, the young defender has battled injury issues throughout his playing career and, this week, Saffle thought it best to retire from the game for medical reasons.

The Pac-12 veteran released a lengthy letter to announce his retirement and, within that note, Saffle said the following:

“I not only fulfilled my dream but exceeded it. I created an opportunity for myself that I will remember forever and one that nobody can take away from me. I worked hard on my recovery, and was one of only three true freshmen to play on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season followed by a very successful sophomore campaign in 2016.
But with any sport, there is risk for injury and my knee injuries have taken a toll on me over time. It is with sadness yet immense gratitude to all those that have supported me over my career that it is time to step off the field to protect myself from any potential further debilitating injuries. This decision was initially difficult to make, but with the support of my parents, brothers, coaches, fellow student-athletes and the athletic department at Cal, the decision was quite simply the logical one to make.
I love Cal and the academic/athletic family, along with the amazing fans and alumni! I love this storied institution encouraging me to be my best! I am proud to be a Golden Bear and my passion for this school will continue to flourish. I am working with the coaches to help define a role where I can still be an active and positive contributor to our athletic teams, and a representative for Cal. I am confident that even though my contributions on the field will no longer exist, my contributions off of it will be just as impactful.”

Saffle started 13 games (appearing in 21 games total) over three seasons at Cal and he contributed 73 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks during that time period. His best season occurred in 2016 when he was the full-time starter and, with health, Saffle would have been a major factor for Cal’s 2018 defense.

However, that was simply not to be and his full letter is absolutely worth a read. This is a young man with everything in front of him making a mature, rational decision and he should be praised for that. It is hard not to root for Cameron Saffle and we wish him the best.

Rowland is a lifelong Atlanta sports fan that also grew up in a Michigan Wolverines household. He previously worked with FanSided, SB Nation and UPROXX sports and covers college football for FanBuzz.
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