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Cowboys Pro Bowler, 29, Retires After Battling Rare Disorder
AP Photo/Roger Steinman

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick is one of the good guys, the type of player you can’t help but root for. He worked his way into becoming a perennial Pro Bowl selection and was well on his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career. A shocking diagnosis put his playing days on hold, and it has unfortunately ended them for good.

On March 23, Frederick retired from the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder had been battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome. He returned to playing last season, but he is officially calling it quits at the age of 29.

“Travis Frederick, by the nature of his center position, was the core piece of what I believe to be one of the most talented and skilled NFL offensive lines that has been assembled,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “His leadership ability, production and intelligence put him at the top level of interior offensive linemen in our league for many years. At the pinnacle of his success, his career on the field was only exceeded by a rare display of courage and determination in overcoming a life-threatening illness and returning to the game—a challenge that could only be completed by a person with rare levels of perseverance and strength.”

All that was left was a heartfelt goodbye from Frederick to the game he loves.

Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Announces Retirement

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After an All-American career with the Wisconsin Badgers, Frederick was selected with the No. 31 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was selected to the NFL All-Rookie team that year and earned Pro Bowl honors in each of the next four seasons.

Frederick, who signed a six-year, $56.4 million contract in 2016, was also named First-Team All Pro once and Second-Team All-Pro twice.

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He played in 96 career NFL games, including all 16 last year with quarterback Dak Prescott, but it is time for the Pro Bowler to enjoy the next chapter in life as a family man.

“After much consideration, discussion, and reflection, I have decided to retire from football. This was not an easy decision. I entered the league at 22 years old, unsure of where life would life. I since have married, welcomed two beautiful, healthy children into this world, and achieved professional levels of which I could never have dreamed.

“Playing football has given me many amazing things. I had the good fortune to play on very successful teams, participate in Pro Bowls, and even be named All-Pro. I have been surrounded by not only elite level athletes and coaches, but elite level men. I have learned from and worked aside some of the game’s best players and coaches. Surprisingly, what I learned from them on the field paled in comparison to what I learned off the field: specifically, how to be an impact member of the community, reliable teammate, and devoted family man.

“I started a journey almost two years ago that completely blindsided me. When I developed Guillian-Barre Syndrome. I did not know how to handle things. I was scared. That experience forced me to reevaluate my life priorities. I spent much of that year thinking about both the past and future. I realize how fortunate I was to play a game for a living. I realized how fortunate I was to make friends and become teammates with some great men. Most of all, I realized the importance of my family and how much I want to be there for their peaks and valleys as they were for me.

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“Football is risky. Each day, players go to work knowing this could be their last day playing. Facing the potential end of my career because of my illness forced me to imagine life after football. I had to prepare for my career potentially ending. Some players feat life when it no longer revolves around football; the moment one stops playing the sport to which one’s identity and dreams have been tied to for 20 years. After months of contemplation, I not only accepted that moment, but I also, surprisingly found myself welcoming the moment. I was ready for the next stage of my life; however, the competitor in me would not accept going out without returning to the field.

“I made my return to the field, played well overall, and was selected to the Pro Bowl, but it was a difficult year for me. Each day I faced a struggle: I could no longer perform at my highest level. Playing ‘well’ is not what I expect of myself and is not what my teammates deserve. Because of this, I know my days as a football player are done. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, and I walk away with my head held high.

“I thank the Jones family, the entire Cowboys organization, and my teammates for allowing me to go on this wild ride. I am very lucky to have played my entire career for and with the greatest sports franchise and fanbase in the world. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the support and opportunity over the last 7 years. I thank my family and friends for their support and for enduring my crazy schedule. Most of all, I thank my wife, Kaylee, for her unending support and belief in me. She handled the NFL craziness with beauty and grace. No one gives enough credit to the significant others in the NFL.

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“I am so thankful for the last 7 years; however, I look forward to the next chapter of life. Kaylee and I will continue to make a positive impact on the Dallas community which has given us so much. Best of luck to the 2020 Dallas Cowboys and the franchise in the future.”

It’s an unfortunate end to an amazing career, but Travis Frederick is at peace with the decision.

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With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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