Linebacker Shea McClellin, who most recently played with the New England Patriots, has very likely played his last game, just six years after he was drafted. He cited multiple concussions as the reason.
Missed all of 2017 with concussion effects
In a story by ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, McClellin, who was the Chicago Bears’ first-round pick (19th overall) in 2012, intimated he spent all of 2017 on injured reserve due to the effects of concussion. It does not appear that the Patriots ever offered a reason/injury for McClellin’s status; he began training camp with the team last summer but was quickly sidelined.
McClellin tried to come back midway through the season, and practiced for two weeks, but the Patriots never activated him off IR.
“I was feeling good, but unfortunately had more residual effects from concussions,” McClellin said. “It’s something they can’t clear you for. That’s the way it is nowadays, they’re tough on concussion things. It’s difficult, but I got through it. One thing I’d say, they handled it like they should have. I’m not upset with them, they’re not upset with me, it’s just the way it is. They handled it perfectly.”
He was released in March, with one year left on his contract.
Shea McClellin through his career
Shea McClellin through his career
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Shea McClellin (R) of Boise State holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #19 overall by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, IL - MAY 12: Defensive end Shea McClellin #99 of the Chicago Bears stands on the field during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on May 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears selected McClellin with their first pick in the 2012 draft. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 18: Shea McClellin #99 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on August 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Redskins 33-31. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Shea McClellin #99 of the Chicago Bears talks with a teammate on the bench during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on August 29, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Browns defeated the Bears 18-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Shea McClellin #99 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Andre Smith #71 and Kevin Zeitler #68 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field on September 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Bengals 24-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Right, Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) congratulates Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin (99) after he sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first quarter at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Monday, November 4, 2013. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
27 MAY 2014: Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin (50) talks with members of the media in action during the 2014 Chicago Bears OTA practice session at Hallas Hall, in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 15: Shea McClellin #50 of the Chicago Bears during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 15, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23: Linebacker Shea McClellin #58 of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 27-16. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27: New England Patriots outside linebacker Shea McClellin (58) during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets on November 27, 2016, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets 22-17. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 12: Patriots' Patrick Chung, right, celebrates with teammate Shea McClellin, center, who blocked a Ravens field goal attempt in the first quarter. New England Patriots play against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Dec. 12, 2016. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Shea McClellin #58 of the New England Patriots in action during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field At Mile High on December 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 16-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 14: New England Patriots wildcat linebacker Shea McClellin (58) on the sidelines during an AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans on January 14, 2017 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Shea McClellin #58 of the New England Patriots attempts to block a point after try in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The play resulted in a 5-yard penalty against the New England Patriots for an illegal formation. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 29: New England Patriots wildcat linebacker Shea McClellin (58) walks to the field during New England Patriots training camp on July 29, 2017, at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 02: NFL player for New England Patriots, Shea McClellin at Rolling Stone Live: Minneapolis presented by Mercedes-Benz and TIDAL. Produced in partnership with Talent Resources Sports on February 2, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Cassidy Sparrow/Getty Images for Rolling Stone)
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Five diagnosed concussions, and likely more
McClellin acknowledged that he’d been diagnosed with five concussions in his career, but likely suffered more that hadn’t been formally recorded.
“I think it was just over time, it wasn’t just one thing. I’ve had five documented concussions, and probably more than that which aren’t documented. It was just residual effects that I couldn’t overcome, which is unfortunate. But sometimes that’s the way it plays out and you just have to deal with it,” he said.
Only 28-years-old, McClellin spent the first four years of his career with the Bears, signing with New England in 2016. He played 17 games with the team that first year, including his first-ever playoff appearance. The Patriots won the Super Bowl that year, against Atlanta.
“It was awesome, first year we won the Super Bowl, can’t complain about that,” McClellin said. “Just meeting all the guys in the locker room, that’s going to be the biggest thing I’m going to miss, that’s for sure. It’s a great locker room culture in New England. Everyone is so close there, it’s just something special. You can just tell because it transfers to the field.”
Next up: Coaching
A native of Caldwell, Idaho who was a standout at Boise State, McClellin is returning to his home state.
He’s accepted the linebackers coach position at Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho, about 30 miles west of Marsing High, where he was a three-sport star. McClellin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to the NFL, though he certainly would be a longshot at this point.
“I’m still staying ready, still working out. I’ve learned to never say never, there’s always a chance that I could still play again, but for now all my focus is on coaching high school,” he said, later expressing optimism that his multiple concussions won’t severely impact his long-term health.
“I think I’m going to be all right,” he said. “I can’t predict the future, no one can, but we’ll see how things play out. I don’t have any residual effects from head injuries right now. I’m optimistic about it, for sure.”