Mauga returns to K.C.
A flurry of early retirements made news earlier this month in the NFL, most notably 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis calling it a career at age 30.
Citing the consequential effects of the brutal hits players encounter every Sunday in the fall, Willis and a few others in the NFL are putting their health first, thus wanting to avoid any problems in the future stemming from concussions or gruesome leg injuries, for example.
Josh Mauga, Fallon’s only player currently in the NFL, recently inked a three-year contract with Kansas City worth about $8 million after signing with the Chiefs last summer. Mauga, too, has dealt with his share of injuries, including a concussion in practice while with the New York Jets and two separate injuries derailing his last two seasons in New York.
But Mauga is well aware of the dangers of the game and has his family in mind when he steps on the field.
“Absolutely. It’s something I take very seriously,” said Mauga, who has two young children with his wife, Amanda. “The brain is something you don’t want to mess around with. I’ve been fortunate enough to only have one concussion in my career and hopefully I can continue to be head injury free for the rest of my career. Having a family makes it even more important for me to stay on top of it because I don’t want to have any problems later down the road.”
Mauga, though, respects the decision several players have made recently to move on to better things outside the NFL. He acknowledged it’s a difficult sport from which to separate because it’s been a part of his life since grade school.
“I think it’s great what guys are doing now,” he said. “As a player, we all know the risk we take when we strap it up and hit the field, but the toughest part is knowing when to call it quits. When you live and breathe football, sometimes it can be hard to walk away from it when you’ve been doing it for so long.”
All Mauga can do now is worry about the present and that he’ll be a Chief for the next three years after leading the team in tackles last season. And fans and family of Mauga can count on the ex-Greenwave and Wolf Pack linebacker to visit the Bay Area at least once every season.
“It’s exciting to know that my family and I will be heading back to Kansas City,” he said. “We absolutely enjoyed our time there last year and look forward to making the most out of this wonderful opportunity.”
Mauga took over at one of the two inside linebacker spots (Kansas City runs a 3-4) after starter Joe Mays went down with an injury in the preseason.
He led the team in tackles with 103 and made two trips to the Bay Area when the Chiefs lost to San Francisco in October and then to Oakland in November. With the Jets, Mauga totaled only 44 combined tackles, a sum he accomplished by Week 7 in his first season with Kansas City.
Mauga hopes to build on his most successful season when he straps on the pads for his sixth year in the NFL. Aside from improving individually, he’s geared toward helping the Chiefs return to the playoffs even though they knocked off both of last year’s Super Bowl teams.
“My main focus is building off of last season and preparing myself to have a better one this year and helping this team win games,” Mauga added.