Grant Newsome wrote most of his retirement letter more than a year ago.
By now, you’ve probably read it. It’s a heartfelt outline of his battle against a horrible leg injury he suffered two years ago.
When Newsome started writing the note, he says he used it as motivation for his comeback.
But on Monday, Newsome finally published the note on Twitter, ending his football career. He had decided his leg injury — dislocated knee, a broken tibia, three tendon tears, nerve damage and a destroyed artery — posed too much of a risk for him to return to the field.
Newsome captioned the Tweet: “Not all stories have a happy ending…”
“I mean it was certainly tough,” Newsome said Tuesday at Michigan’s media availability. “I said in the letter, you know, writing that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And that was true. There were certainly days in rehab that were just incredibly difficult.
“… I’m the type of person that’s very competitive. And so I think a lot of what drove me is the fact that I wasn’t gonna be just another statistic. I was gonna be the first person to come back from that injury. Ultimately, you know, as much as I put everything I had into it, still there was a part of me that felt like, you know, ‘You failed in this,’ or, ‘You quit on it.’ And it was tough. It was tough to get over. But fortunately, I have an incredible family, an incredible support system, who were there for me.”
Newsome’s career will no doubt be remembered positively, albeit with a little tinge of ‘What could have been?’
He played five games as a freshman in 2015 and started the first five games of the 2016 season at left tackle, solidifying that position before suffering his career-ending injury against Wisconsin. Especially with the tackle position being perhaps the biggest question mark on this season’s team, there was optimism within the fanbase, and from Newsome and coach Jim Harbaugh, that the 21-year-old could return and produce in 2018.
Even with his absence on the field, though, Newsome became a fan favorite for his strong social media presence and his inspiring comeback story.
After releasing his letter, he says he got thousands of supportive and helpful responses.
That’s how Newsome wants it. He wants his career to be remembered positively for what it was and not with pity for what it might have been.
“Don’t feel sorry,” Newsome said. “I’m blessed. Like I said in the letter, I’ve been blessed to have a short career here and a great career here. And hopefully it’s only beginning.”
That last part is in reference to his new position.
Moving forward, Newsome will stay at Michigan as a student tight end coach while pursuing his graduate degree in
He says he’s going to “see if the coaching bug bites him.”
In the end, the risk of returning to the field was too great. Newsome says if things went wrong, his leg may have had to be amputated — a threat that was imminent when Newsome was injured against the Badgers.
“I’ll have a completely functional life,” Newsome said. “I just wasn’t ready to risk that. There’s nothing more I want in the world than to be back on the field. But it just ultimately, when the decision is looking me in the face and I had to think rationally for the first time, kind of the whole process, it just wasn’t something I was comfortable with.”
It’s easy to forget Newsome’s age when he talks. He’s been through as much in the past few years as many 21-year-olds have experienced in a lifetime.
With all of that, it would be easy to feel disappointed in one’s self, but Newsome says he’s overcome that.
After all, he’s standing and walking on his own two legs. Just under two years ago, even that wasn’t a sure thing.
Newsome finished off his letter by saying as much.
“Thank you all,” he wrote, “and may God bless you and those you love like he has me.”