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A.J. Tarpley retires from Buffalo Bills, citing concussions

Tarpley is the latest in a growing contingent of NFL players calling it quits because of health and safety concerns

Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J. Tarpley announced his retirement from professional football in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening. The 23-year-old, second-year linebacker made his decision based on his suffering the third and fourth concussions of his playing career last season.

The only thing comforting about not knowing this play would be the last of my career, is knowing that I never took a second for granted. After months of introspection, I am retiring from football. I suffered the 3rd and 4th concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health. This decision is the hardest I've made yet but after much research and contemplation I believe it's what is best for me going forward. I'd like to extend my gratitude to everyone that helped me along the way. Thank you to my coaches at Wayzata and Stanford, and to lifelong friends that I was blessed to call teammates. You all molded me into the man I am today. To my family, I'll never be able to repay your unwavering support and love, I just hope that I can continue to show how gracious I am and make you proud. I also want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, coaches, and teammates for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream in the NFL. Last but not least, I'm proud to be a part of #BillsMafia and playing in front of the best fans in the league is something I won't forget. Thank you God for all that you have blessed me . I'm excited for my future.

A photo posted by A.J. Tarpley (@ajtarpley) on

Tarpley, who played his college ball at Stanford, joined the Bills last spring as an undrafted free agent. He ended up making the Bills' 53-man roster, appearing almost exclusively on special teams until late in the season, when injuries forced him into the starting lineup. Tarpley recorded an interception in each of the final two games of his career, including the play pictured above that brought an end to the New York Jets' playoff hopes.

Heading into the 2016 season, Tarpley had been projected as a safe bet to make Buffalo's roster, considering the strong finish to his rookie season. His departure is the latest in a growing trend of younger players with concussion histories stepping away from the game, and it leaves the Bills with a thinner depth chart situation at linebacker.