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Miller says burnout -- not concussion fears -- led him to quit

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
“Concussions were not really a factor in this decision,” Miller said about the  reason he left football.

Former Michigan center Jack Miller left football with a year of eligibility remaining not for fear of concussions but because of "burnout."

Miller, named the team's top offensive lineman last season after starting every game at center, announced his decision to retire from football this month to focus on finishing his degree and to pursue other interests.

An ESPN story Wednesday indicated Miller quit "over concussion concerns," but he said that was not the message regarding his decision he hoped to convey.

"Concussions were not really a factor in this decision," Miller told The Detroit News on Thursday. "I know it makes for a good headline. I thought about the concussion thing as much as I thought about the fact I have back pain every day. (The story) has blown up into this whole thing, because there's not a lot going on in college football right now."

He had participated in the start of spring practice under coach Jim Harbaugh before realizing it was time to follow through on something he had considered for a while.

"I've been thinking about moving along for a long time now," Miller said. "God's honest truth, I was burned out. I have other interests.

"I kept waking up every morning saying, 'What am I doing?' It's been a real struggle (to make the decision). If you would have told me I would have gotten to this point (in my football career), I would have told you you're crazy."

Miller said he felt like he was not giving his all during practices, and that had nothing to do with the coaching change from Brady Hoke to Harbaugh.

"I was thinking about, 'Do I quit, go home to Toledo and pay tuition to go to Toledo or am I going to stick it out and get a free education from one of the best public institutions?' " Miller said. "Football has been a vehicle for a free education to me, and I'm going to graduate. I don't have the incentive to keep going. I have no NFL aspirations, no graduate school."

Miller loves the game, but it has been grueling.

"I don't think a lot of people realize how demanding it is," he said. "I played basketball in high school. You have to be ready for practice, but you don't have to show up for a game like football. If you have a bad game, you miss shots, you're going to come back the next game.

"With football, you're going to get physically beat if you don't show up. It's 100 percent or nothing. That wears on people after a while. I know it's worn on me."

Miller will take classes at Michigan this spring and graduate in June. He wants to spend time with his family this summer and hopes to start focusing on work in the fall.

He insists everything he said when he made the decision had everything to do with retiring.

"I'm walking away at a time that's really nice, and I'm really relatively healthy," he said.