By Tim Graham
Donald Jones' final NFL down will have been played for the Buffalo Bills.
Jones, released from the New England Patriots on July 19, announced on his Twitter account that he was retiring because his kidney condition has worsened.
"As some of you may know, I have been suffering from a kidney disease throughout my entire life. As a result of recent advances in my disease, I am no longer able to pursue my career in the National Football League. Playing in the NFL was a lifelong dream of mine, and though I have the opportunity to continue my career, stepping away from the game is absolutely best decision for my family and for my health.
"While it will be difficult, I am comforted by the love and support of my family, friends and doctors and am excited about my continued involvement with the various kidney foundations I've worked with in raising awareness for health, nutrition, preventative medicine and kidney disease.
"I want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, especially Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix, for allowing me to pursue my NFL dream and Coach Gailey for changing my life. I also want to thank the New England Patriots and their doctors for assisting my medical team in fighting this disease.
"Thank you all for your prayers and wishes."
Jones told Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports the condition is called lgA nephropathy and that Jones might need a transplant eventually. Jones said his blood pressure accelerated to 250 over 110 while taking a stress test as part of a recent physical with the Indianapolis Colts.
The American Heart Association website suggests anyone with a systolic (upper number) reading over 180 or any diastolic (lower number) reading over 110 should seek emergency medical care.
"I'll always look at it like I was definitely an up-and-coming guy who had a bright future ahead of him. But if I look at it that way, I'll just get down," Jones told Garafolo. "I just try to be positive about everything and realize everything happens for a reason. Playing in the NFL, for me, was bigger than just playing. I want to get awareness up. Playing in the NFL was just a stepping stone to get my awareness up."
Jones, undrafted out of Youngstown State in 2010, played three seasons with the Bills. They declined to re-sign him as a restricted free agent in March.
Jones played 35 games and started 22. He caught 82 passes for 887 yards and six touchdowns.
Although he missed the final four games because of his illness last year, he made with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns (all second on the Bills behind Stevie Johnson) and recorded the team's longest play from scrimmage, a 68-yard touchdown against the Patriots in Week Four.