Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Rodney Gunter announced Sunday that he has been forced to hang up his cleats after being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening heart condition.
The condition was described as an enlargement of Gunter’s aorta and comes with the risk of rupturing or tearing the vital blood vessel if he continues to play football. There is reportedly a surgery with a 50 percent chance of fixing the issue, but Gunter said that his aorta is not yet enlarged enough to qualify for the operation.
So at 28 years old, Gunter finds himself in the surreal position of having to wait until his aorta is enlarged another half-centimeter before he can qualify for the surgery, which could possibly give him a shot at playing football again.
“These last three weeks have been a hard pill to swallow,” Gunter wrote. “Seeing my dreams vanish right in front of me has been extremely difficult.”
Gunter was set to play his sixth season in the NFL this year after signing a three-year deal with the Jaguars as part of the team’s plan to replace departed Pro Bowlers Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus. In five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Gunter posted 126 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks.
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