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Gopher's football star Nick Connelly says fifth concussion forced retirement

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Gopher Nick Connelly, No. 74, in a game against Northwestern University.
Gopher Nick Connelly, No. 74, in a game against Northwestern University in 2016. Connelly has retired from football after sustaining his fifth concussion.
Chelsea Gortmaker | Minnesota Daily 2016

Former University of Minnesota football player Nick Connelly has retired as a red shirt sophomore but will never stop loving the game.

Connelly had NFL aspirations and won his spot as an offensive lineman for the Gophers. Then, last October in a game against Purdue, he suffered his fifth concussion, his third in two years. He spoke with family, doctors and other players while he recovered. They said a sixth concussion could be life-changing. Connelly decided it wasn't worth the risk.

Even with the concussions he has sustained there are no major lapses in Connelly's memory, except for that final game.

"I hear it was a fun game to watch," he told host Tom Weber.

His short-term memory has suffered. He must set reminders in his phone for school assignments and day-to-day tasks like buying milk. 

The criminology major isn't sure what's next. He's played football since he was eight and is used to a schedule full of practices and games. He hopes to have an internship this summer.

When asked what he'll miss most Connelly said, "the team, the people." He said head coach P.J. Fleck was nothing but supportive of his decision to hang up his helmet.

He's not advising people to stop playing football. He said if his future children want they can play.

"Football has taught me a lot ... I'd still play [if I could]," he said. 

However, he wants people to be aware of the risks of such a violent sport.

 Listen to the entire segment by using the audio player above.