I have dreamed my entire life of playing in the National Football League. From the time I was in middle school I knew I wanted to play tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed my dreams started to become reality in high school when my coaches recognized my talent and encouraged me to train and compete at the highest levels of the sport. I have always known that I was good enough to play professional football, but, in a lot of ways, that has become the most frustrating part of this journey.
As many of you know, I have been challenged with a few injuries during my career. However, only a handful of people outside of my family know the full extent of the injury that I suffered at Penn State. In 2014, an MRI revealed that I had significant damage in my left knee. This specific injury required me to have a complicated surgery and a long recovery process. At the time, my doctors told me that my knee would never again be the same and that there was a chance I would never come back from the injury. In January 2016, after almost two long years of rehabbing with little success, I wrote a letter to Penn State fans announcing my retirement from football.
As I began working in the “real world,” my knee suddenly started to feel better. It was the dream that I had of playing in the NFL from as early as I could remember, and knowing that I’m good enough to do so, that drove me back to the game. When I transferred to UMass in 2016, my knee felt much better. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better, and thanks to the exceptional training staff at UMass and some Advil, I was able to achieve All-American status that season.
This past season things began to deteriorate quickly. Even though I enjoyed on-field success, I knew my knee was getting rapidly worse with every game I played. The consistent dream of playing in the NFL was my motivation to push through the pain. I knew what was happening, but I was afraid to accept it and be disappointed yet again.
When the season ended, I hoped with some time off and without the physical rigors of the season, my knee would begin to feel better. However, once I started training daily for the NFL draft in January 2018, I realized my situation had not improved. After additional medical evaluations and creative treatments, my doctors and I have come to the realization that there is no solution that will allow me to continue to play football.
It hurts me to share that at just 22 years old, I am officially retiring from the game of football. Football has given me so much in my life and I am very proud of all my accomplishments both on and off the field. From what we were able to accomplish at Penn State during one of the most trying times in college football history, to becoming a 2-time All-American at UMass, I will always look back and have amazing memories of my career. This game has allowed me to receive a highly regarded undergraduate degree from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and my M.B.A. from UMass’ Isenberg School of Management. Beyond my education and unforgettable memories with my teammates and coaches, football has given me so many amazing opportunities and ever-lasting relationships for which I will forever be thankful.
Letting go of my dream to play in the NFL has taken some time to accept, but I have come to terms with the reality that God has a different plan for me. For as much as football has challenged me emotionally and physically, I would not change a single thing. My career was not perfect and certainly not how I imagined it back when I was a 5-star recruit, but it was my reality. My journey is my story, and I’ve learned to be very proud of it.
Thank you to all of you who have stood by me and supported me during my career. From the people in the Cedar Cliff community and throughout central Pennsylvania, to the amazing fans at Penn State, and my great supporters at UMass, you all have greatly impacted my life in such an amazing way and for that I will be forever thankful. I can only hope that I gave you a fraction of the joy you’ve given me with your love and support.
I know so many of you who have supported me over the years will feel disappointed for me. Please don’t. I am truly blessed to have lived a dream that so few people get the chance to experience. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities this game has given me. But, as they say, all good things must come to end. While this chapter of my life is coming to a close, I look forward to what the future has in store for me and writing the next chapter of my life.
Thanks for everything,
Adam Breneman #81