You had to be skeptical.
I know I was. It’s OK to admit if you were too.
After wiping the sleep from my eyes and checking my iPhone early Wednesday morning to see the news that 27-year-old former Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds had stunningly retired, there was an initial thought: There has to be more to this story. There just has to be.
The message came flashed in a series of middle-of-the-night tweets as Tuesday turned to Wednesday.
Probably most of us — me included — tried to digest the situation when we first saw it Wednesday morning.
When strung together, the tweets read as follows:
“I appreciate all of the interest from the organizations that have reached out to us the past few days. With that being said, after much thought and consideration, I have chosen to step away from football as I have opted to pursue other interests. I am especially grateful of the opportunity to play before some of the greatest fans in football today. Despite any concern and speculation that may ensue, I appreciate those that are respectful of my decision.”
I looked through it twice. Maybe it was three times.
Then I shared with former Steelers punter and my radio mate Josh Miller — who is here in Bradenton, Fla., on assignment with me — the news.
“Huh,” Miller said laughing, waiting for the punchline.
I was serious and he soon understood as much.
“Wow,” Miller said, standing befuddled in a house we are occupying for the week.
It was all he could muster.
It was all I could muster.
I walked out of the room as we both just shook our heads in disbelief.
We were both beyond dumbfounded.
But then the skepticism hit soon thereafter. Certainly, there had to be more to all of this — no way it could be that cut and dried.
What don’t we know here?
What isn’t fully being disclosed?
What is the cynic in me — that I’m so sure is right about a conspiracy — missing on the surface that, when the layers are pulled apart produces that conspiracy?
Maybe, even, is this a ploy by Worilds’ agent to somehow get the free agent some more cash as he will certainly continue on playing football?
But it looks like none of those.
It looks like, well, it is what it is — a man walking away from his vocation, and bushels upon bushels of money, on his own terms.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sent out a tweet explaining that his sources have informed him that Worilds wanted to walk away from the game now to devote more time to working for his religion.
A man’s religious calling isn’t something to be taken lightly as this deep of a faith, one which forced Worilds to walk away from millions, has to be a strong pull for him.
All that said, my skepticism about all of this persisted right up until I read that tweet from Bouchette. If such a report is accurate — and there is no reason to doubt Bouchette here — there’s no sense to go looking for more answers from Worilds.
One doesn’t need to be poked or prodded, nudged or questioned any farther. Instead, Jason Worilds should be commended for going down a spiritual path that he truly does believe in, even as he left behind monetary riches and the fame that comes with professional sport.
And, from this point, we would all (especially any media vultures who feel compelled to dig for deeper answers) be best to take the advice Worilds issued in his statement.
We should be respectful of his decision.
And leave it at that.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.