‘Totality of injury too much,’ Michigan’s Grant Newsome retires from football

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Grant Newsome desperately wanted to return to football at Michigan.

He has worked hard to overcome the devastating knee and leg injuries he suffered during the 2016 season, but on Monday, Newsome revealed in a lengthy letter on Twitter that he has retired from football.

Grant Newsome

“The totality of the injury was too much,” Newsome wrote.

Newsome was injured in a game at Michigan Stadium against Wisconsin. He spent 38 days in the hospital, including the first 10 in intensive care, and had six surgeries in 40 days on his right leg. He nearly lost the leg.

“I ended up dislocating my knee, fracturing my tibia, tearing three of the ligaments in my knee, suffering severe damage to three different nerves, and destroying my popliteal artery,” Newsome wrote. “Emergency surgery saved my leg and maybe my life.”

During the Wolverines’ trip to Paris, Newsome ran one offensive line drill during a clinic and later in the week told reporters he was still optimistic he could return to the game he loves.

But the comeback is over.

“God has other plans for me,” Newsome wrote. “Despite the near miraculous healing in my knee, the totality of the injury was too much, as some recent secondary injuries coupled with the fragile nature of the vascular graph have made the risk of playing football again one that is too great for me to accept.

“So I have made undoubtedly the most difficult decision of my life, and I will medically retire from football.”

During Big Ten media days last month, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he was still hoping Newscome could return.

"He's been training hard and we're going to see where he's at," Harbaugh said. "We'll go out on the field and look. A lot of it is (about the) nerve, how is it going to come back? Everyone's confident it will. When will it? We don't know. 

"It's not in our control, it's not in his control. Until that fully comes back, he won't be playing football. But praying and hoping it does." 

Newsome, who is from McLean, Va., played in five games as a true freshman in 2015. He was the starting left tackle in 2016 for five games before the injury.

He will remain with the team as a student coach, working with the Michigan tight ends, as Newsome completes his master's degree.

Newsome’s goal was to return to practice this spring but he did not get medical clearance. While in Paris, he said he confident and hopeful he will be able to practice with the team during preseason camp this fall.

“Just waiting for one nagging thing to come along, one kind of piece of it,” Newsome said at the time.

Newsome was able to go through full conditioning this spring.

“Feeling good. I’m feeling good,” Newsome said then of his recovery. “Been the common theme throughout this is I’m feeling good. I feel like I’m ready to play but just waiting on the doctors still.

“It’s definitely a unique injury so there’s not really a set timetable, which has been frustrating to me. Considering where we were when we started, we’ve thoroughly exceeded every expectation.”

More: Jim Harbaugh names Shea Patterson Michigan's starting quarterback

More: Michigan's Grant Newsome almost lost leg, but has plenty of heart

Newsome also considered the possibility of sitting out this season and returning next year.

 “Obviously I don’t want to do that,” Newsome said. “It would be an option that’s on the table because I have three years to play two still, but that’s not the intention at all. That’s not the goal.”

Newsome, who has strong opinions on social topics and regularly engages on Twitter, might eventually get involved in politics or consulting, he told The News in January.

“Something where I can affect positive change,” he said. “That’s really what my goal in life is, to get to a position where I can not only financially but socially affect a positive change for the most people I possibly can.”

Newsome earned a degree in American culture with a minor in African-American studies, and is working on his master’s. He said going through the injury and the rehab have completely changed him.

“Everyone’s first inclination, ‘Oh, I’m still the same person,’ but any time you go through anything that serious in your life it’s impossible for it to not change you,” he told The News. “I can’t sit here and say I’m going to be the exact same player. There’s no way I am. For better or worse, I’m going to be different physically, different mentally. It’s maximizing both of those things so I can be a better player overall than I was before.

“Definitely mentally and emotionally it’s definitely changed me, I’d like to think for the better. It’s definitely given me an appreciation for the hardships people go through on a daily basis. I was fortunate I had the best care, the best doctors and the best possible situation. I think there are a lot of people who don’t. Their stories aren’t publicized. They’re going through things that are worse, cancers. It’s given me a bigger appreciation for that and given me perspective. It’s made me appreciate the little things in life.”