Tight end Jordan Cameron recently announced his retirement from the NFL.
Just don't say he's "walking away from the game he loves"—because according to him, he and most other NFL players don't love football.
"Do you really love football?" Cameron told ESPN, lamenting a question teams often ask players they're looking to acquire. "A lot of guys don't really love it. There's a few guys that love it. Ray Lewis loves football. Peyton Manning. They love it. But a lot of guys don't really love this game, and there are players that will read this who will understand exactly what I'm talking about."
Cameron spent six seasons in the NFL, playing for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2013, when he amassed 917 receiving yards and caught seven touchdowns for Cleveland.
"I don't think a lot of these guys love football, to be honest," Cameron said. "A lot of them don't. You play for other reasons, and every guy has their own reason. They know why, and as long as your why is really important, you keep playing without really loving football.
"Because really, who loves to get hit in 10-degree weather by a 280-pound person? Really, no one likes that. 'Do you love football?' I couldn't stand when people asked me that."
Cameron retired after having suffered four concussions during his career. He said those injuries affected how he approached the game.
"You're playing physical and you're playing an intense, violent game," Cameron said. "You have to gear yourself up for that, but it's hard to gear yourself up if you're thinking about getting hit or what the implications might be."
Still, he values a lot of what football game him—in particular, competition and relationships with others in the football world.
"Some of the best people I have ever met have been football players," he said. "Every single guy talks about the locker room and how that's the thing they will miss. It's so true. Some of the most down-to-earth, intelligent human beings are in there."