Chicago Tribune

How NFL players approach short shelf lives: 'You're investing in your body. Sometimes those things are priceless.'

Bears inside linebacker John Timu knows the stress of this weekend on NFL players as well as anyone.

By 4 p.m. EDT Saturday, as many as 1,184 NFL players will lose their jobs as teams cut their 90-man training camp rosters to the regular-season limit of 53.

Some of this weekend's cuts will fall into a practice-squad safety net, as Timu has in years past. Some will latch on with other teams. But others will find themselves in early retirement, the newest examples of how quickly an NFL career can come and go.

The NFL Players Association said that over the last seven years the average career length of players who had accrued seasons - being on a roster for six games in a given year - was 3.3 years. The NFL has argued that average career length is better represented by the six-year average for rookies who make teams' opening weekend rosters.

Most around the NFL can recite similar numbers, but actually planning for such a reality is more difficult for players whose main concern is not being released this weekend.

"Especially when you're on the bubble, you want to focus on making sure you become a Chicago Bear,

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