Cowboys All-Pro Center Travis Frederick Announces Retirement from Professional Football At Age 29 Following Battle with Deadly Autoimmune Disease

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (72) and his teammates get ready to go back on the field late in the fourth quarter for a possible comeback against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, November 10, 2019.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Travis Frederick is one of the best players at his position.

The Cowboys center was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in 2019, returning from the effects of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

He knew it would take nearly two years to fully recover from the autoimmune disorder and play at an elite level. He was just grateful to play center for the Cowboys in 2019.

His offensive line coach, Marc Colombo, gave him high grades for his work. He played 1,117 snaps and never missed a game.

But Frederick just wasn’t the player he thought he once was.

Frederick came to grips with this late Monday afternoon when he announced his retirement from football at 29.

He released a late afternoon statement, stunning the football world and putting the Cowboys into a situation some weren’t expecting.

“I started a journey almost two years ago that completely blindsided me,” Frederick said in his statement. “When I developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, I did not know how to handle things. I was scared. That experience forced me to re-evaluate my life priorities.”

Frederick has a wife. Two kids. A family. Grown-man stuff.

Sitting out the 2018 season while recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome gave Frederick a new perspective on life.

The rare disorder attacks the immune system and takes away basic motor skills. Frederick had to learn how to walk again. Lifting weights, blocking defenders, running at full speed and making line protection calls were no longer easy. They were hard. Just doing a push-up was hard.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, about 30% of those with Guillain-Barre have residual weakness after three years. At least 15% deal with long-term weakness where it requires the use of a walker or wheelchair, and about 3% may suffer a relapse years after an initial attack.

These are the facts Frederick was weighing as he found the strength to play football again. It was a true testament to the type of man he is: a fighter. Someone to depend on.

All season he said the right things about playing football again, but deep down he knew something was wrong.

“I made my return to the field, played well, overall, and was selected to the Pro Bowl, but it was a difficult year for me,” he said. “Each day, I faced a struggle: I could no longer perform at my highest level. Playing ‘well’ is not what I expected of myself and is not what my teammates deserve. Because of this, I know my days as a football player are done. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, and I walk away with my head held high.”

Frederick was signed through 2023 and leaves $32.3 million in uncashed checks. He was scheduled to make $7 million in base salary in 2020.

The Cowboys will now have to deal with the loss of Frederick again, this time for good.

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SOURCE: Dallas Morning News, Calvin Watkins