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Cal Football

Michael Saffell Medically Retires From Football

July 23, 2021

BERKELEY – Michael Saffell announced Friday that he has medically retired from football due to injury via a letter and video addressed to the Cal football family.

"Being a football student-athlete at Cal has been more than I could have dreamed of," Saffell said. "I've had so many opportunities to excel on the field, as well as in the classroom and the community. There are many people to thank including my Cal football teammates, coaches and staff, as well as the University's professors, our fans and so many more. This was a difficult decision but the right one for me. Although I will miss competing and the camaraderie with my teammates, I will always be a part of the Cal family and knowing that helps ease the disappointment that my football playing career has come to an end. I'm excited for my next challenge."

"Mike has been an absolute pleasure to coach and be around the last four years," Travers Family Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox added. "He embodies everything a collegiate student-athlete should be. Not only has Mike been a tremendous player on the field, but just as importantly, he has been a leader among his teammates, as well as in the classroom and the community. His medical retirement is a difficult reality for all of us and we will miss him greatly, but we fully support his decision and know that he will be hugely successful in the next chapter of his life."

Below are notes on Saffell with an extended bio available by clicking on his name.
Michael Saffell, OL, 6-2, 295, Huntington Beach, CA (Edison HS)
Cal Career: 2017-20

2021 Honors – Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Nominee®; Players To Watch (Athlon); Preseason All-California Region First Team (SportsPac-12); Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team (Lindy's, Pro Football Focus), Third Team (Athlon), Fourth Team (Phil Steele); Rimington Award Watch List
– Played in 28 games with 23 starts over four seasons from 2017-20 including 15 of 17 Cal contests at center over the past two campaigns as a 2019 junior and 2020 senior following his first eight starts at right guard including the first six as a 2018 sophomore before suffering a season-ending lower-body injury and two as a 2017 freshman
– Did not record any statistics other than participation
– Selected as the Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior, while he was also named second-team (Pro Football Focus), third-team (SportsPac-12) and honorable mention (Pac-12 Coaches) All-Pac-12 after starting all four games and serving as a team season captain
– Picked up second-team All-Pac-12 honors from Pro Football Focus as a junior
– Honored with the Pac-12's annual academic recognition each of his last three seasons as a first-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection as a sophomore and a member of the league's Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll that replaced its Pac-12 All-Academic teams as a junior and senior
– Took over from Patrick Laird as the lead ambassador for the Cal Athletics Summer Reading Challenge and visited approximately 25 organizations and spoke to over 5000 kids in the summer of 2019 to promote reading and combat summer learning loss
– Graduated from Cal with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the prestigious Haas School of Business in three-and-a-half years in December of 2020 

Discussion from...

Michael Saffell Medically Retires From Football

3,369 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by fat_slice
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Big C
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Ouch, kind of a surprise. We'll see if the o-line can weather this. Best of future health to Michael Saffell, who has been and always will be a great Golden Bear!
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Ouch! Ouch! Michael Saffell is one my favorite Cal Football players (I loved the video that he put together). I thought he was going to be the leader of our OL in 2021.

I wish him the best and full health.

Go Bears!
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Thank you Michael for all you hard work and contributions to Cal Football -- True Blue!. We will miss seeing you on the field this year. Best of luck on your future and please put that Cal degree to good use!
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Damn! Another guy we can ill afford to lose. Every team suffers attrition but Cal, with our limited depth, may be less able to withstand the loss of a veteran starter than most. Best wishes for Mike as he gets on with the real business of life.
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We are disappointed, but I'm sure he is upset. The best of luck to Michael. He was an outstanding football player.
Bearly Clad
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Best of luck to Mr. Saffell in whatever he does next! I just want what's best for him and this sounds like it was it.

From a competitive standpoint this obviously hurts but without COVID he would've been gone by now anyway. He could've had an NFL future but even without medical issues it would've been a huge strain on his body to carry 300+ lbs and keep that weight on. Plus he has a bright future regardless of football, whether it's broadcasting/sports journalism, business, or whatever else. The man is incredibly charismatic and multi-talented and could be successful in many different ways.

Honestly this highlights one of the best things about Cal football, that it's not football or bust for our guys; they have options and whenever football is over it's not the end, just another chapter.
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Read the other story on him on this site and what an amazing guy. Great attitude and outlook. Wish him all the best and hope he can be a member of the team this year and contribute in other ways.
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