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Popson retires from NFL

Two too many hits, resulting in head trauma, persuaded NFL tight-end Ted Popson, a graduate of Tahoe-Truckee High School, to step down.

Popson, 32, who sustained head injuries twice last season, obeyed his doctor’s orders and announced his retirement from the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday.

Playing two years with the Chiefs and three with the San Francisco 49ers, Popson played in a SuperBowl and during his career made 103 catches for 980 yards.

The announcement brought an end to the career of the only TTHS graduate to play in the NFL.

Background

Moving to Truckee for his freshman year of high school, Popson was regarded as being too small for the Tahoe-Truckee Wolverine football team – by then head coach Dick Barrett – and chose instead to wrestle.

With a tremendous growth spurt in his senior year, Popson went on to play football for Portland State, a 1-19 junior college team, before moving on to NFL developmental squads with the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

Serving as a back up to All-Pro Brent Jones, Popson, in 1995, made critical plays in leading the San Francisco 49ers to a SuperBowl XXIX victory.

“I want to keep playing. I wish I could play forever,” Popson said in a brief ceremony before teammates at the Chiefs’ training camp, “but I’ll listen to the doctors.”

“[Popson] played the game the way it was meant to be played … with respect,” said Chiefs’ general manager, Carl Peterson. “I don’t remember Ted Popson ever dropping a pass.”

Popson was first injured in a savage tackle against Pittsburgh on a Monday night game in 1997.

“That was the most vicious hit ever I’ve ever seen in the NFL,” said Peterson. “But he held onto the ball.”


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