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(KDKA) – The winding trail of Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick Tyler Gaffney has come to an end.
The Pirates confirmed that the oft-injured former NFL running back and outfielder retired at 27-years-old on Friday.
The news is a bit of a shock after Gaffney came into spring training seemingly intent on putting injuries that derailed his NFL career behind him. When reached via email, a Pirates spokesman gave no reason for the retirement, only saying that it was not injury related.
On Thursday, Gaffney joined the Pirates’ minor-league camp after a brief football career marked by several injuries and two Super Bowl rings without ever playing a regular-season game.
“My dream has been the big leagues my whole life,” Gaffney said via mlb.com last month. “I think I’ve been tasting that every time I was hurt. You have time to think about things like that. So now I’m here, putting in my work.
“Now I’m here, five years later. I think the last couple years took their toll on my body. The heart wanted it. The body didn’t. I’m finally able to come back to baseball, the sport I love.”
Gaffney was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 24th round in 2012 out of Stanford, but he went back to school to play football. He rushed for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns his senior season and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Gaffney never played for Carolina after hurting his knee and was picked up by the New England Patriots after being released. After another season-ending knee injury in 2015, Gaffney was released after a foot injury in 2016 before being placed on the practice squad. In his last NFL shot, the Jacksonville Jaguars placed Gaffney on injured reserve last August, and he officially retired from the NFL in April.
After going back to baseball, Gaffney moved up to Double-A Altoona in early June and was going to be competing for an outfield spot there this season before his retirement on Friday.