NFL training camps around the league are readying to partake in the first allowable padded practice this offseason, but the Jacksonville Jaguars won't have defensive lineman Rodney Gunter on the field for it. The veteran pass rusher stunned many outside the organization on Sunday by not simply announcing his retirement from the NFL, but also why. Gunter, 28, discovered he suffers from a heart condition that could be life-threatening if he continued to play football. 

In an official statement, he explained his emotional turmoil, and waved goodbye to the Jaguars.

"These last three weeks have been a hard pill to swallow," Gunter said. "Seeing my dreams vanish right in front of me has been extremely difficult. After seeing several heart specialists, I was told if I continue to play ball with my condition, I could possibly rupture or tear my aorta -- which is enlarged. This can cause sudden death or a severe stroke. 

"There is a 50/50 chance that surgery will fix my current health condition. But, at the moment, I do no meet the criteria to undergo the operation. Those who qualify must have a 5.5+ cm enlarged aorta, while mine measures 5.0 cm. At this time, I cannot play or have the surgery, so I must wait. 

"So at this moment, the best choice for me and my family is to walk away from this game. I appreciate the Jaguars for giving me an opportunity, and I'm thankful for everyone who has believed in me along the way. Thank you!"

Gunter had yet to take a snap for the Jaguars, having signed with them this offseason on a three-year deal. He was placed on the team's active/non-football injury list -- presumably due to his condition -- but will now end his career, at least for now. Gunter's statement does leave the door open for a possible return to football should he be able to undergo surgery in the future, but that's far from guaranteed. 

He joined the Jaguars after spending five years with the Arizona Cardinals, having been selected by the club in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. One of the more durable players in the league, Gunter was available for every regular season game from 2015 through 2018, before missing six games in 2019 due to a toe injury that landed him on injured reserve. He leaves the NFL having played in 77 games with 38 starts, delivering 126 combined tackles, 29 quarterback hits and 11 sacks for his career.