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College Quarterback Retires Due to Concussions

The University of Connecticut announced Monday that redshirt quarterback Casey Cochran is retiring from football due to the multiple concussions he's suffered during his playing career.

Considering that roughly 1 in 3 Americans said they're less likely to allow their children to play football due to what they know about football-related head injuries, per an HBO Real Sports/Marist poll, this decision could be yet another sign of an evolving culture surrounding concussions in sports.

Cochran, a sophomore, suffered a concussion late in the team's season opener against Brigham Young University on August 29, according to CBSSports.com's Jerry Hinnen. UConn head coach Bob Diaco said during his weekly radio show that the sophomore signal-caller didn't mention the injury until four days after the game, per Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register, then announced his retirement after missing this past weekend's matchup against Stony Brook.

"A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching," said Diaco in a statement. "We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team."

Casey's father, Jack Cochran, spoke with Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant about the decision to bench his son permanently:

He gave everything he had to the game, but he knew his next concussion would be his last on the field and yet it didn't change the way that he played or practiced. He took hits, showed a lot of heart and toughness. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played.

He's had his fair share of concussions and the effect it has on you physically and mentally, it just gets to be too much. But he played last year for the team and took some hard shots against SMU and Temple and Rutgers and he just went through it.

Frankly, the Cochran family's concern about concussions isn't without merit. A study released earlier this year found that some football players' brains might not fully recover from hits endured even after six months of no-contact rest during the offseason. Multiple studies have found football to have the highest rate of concussions among all sports, while another study released earlier this year found a significant inverse relationship to the number of years college football players have spent playing the sport and the volume of a portion of their brains associated with memory.

To date, no study has found a causal link between football and long-term brain damage, but the evidence about the ramifications of multiple concussions is piling up. Five years ago, Cochran and his family likely wouldn't have been informed enough to make such a decision; the fact they're concerned enough about it now to end his playing career suggests the culture around youth-sports concussions is clearly evolving slowly but surely.

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