Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall has officially called it a career.
After reports of his impending retirement came out Saturday and Sunday from both media outlets and his agent Mike McCartney, Mendenhall decided to put all talk to rest.
In an article posted Sunday afternoon by the Huffington Post, the six-year veteran detailed exactly why he's decided to walk away from the game.
The truth is, I don't really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it's saying, "Football was pretty cool, but I don't want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!" However as I told the people around me that I wasn't planning on signing again, there was a surprising amount of shock and bewilderment.
"Why would you stop now? You're only 26 years old! You're just going to walk away from millions of dollars? Is your knee fully healed? You had a pretty good year last year," etc. After the initial shock response and realization that I'm not kidding, the question that would continue to arise is: Why?
"Why do you want to stop playing football at 26?"
Honestly, I've really enjoyed my time in the NFL and have had tons of fun.
I feel like I've done it all. I've been to two Super Bowls; made a bunch of money; had a lot of success; traveled all over the country and overseas; met some really cool people; made lasting relationships; had the opportunity to give back to causes close to my heart; and have been able to share my experiences and wisdom with friends, family and people all over the world. Not to mention all the fun I had goofing around at work day after day with my teammates! I'm thankful that I can walk away at this time and smile over my six years in the NFL, and 17 total seasons of football -- dating back to when I started pee-wee ball at Niles West in 1997, when I was 10. These experiences are all a part of me, and will remain in my heart no matter what I do, or where I go.
The former Illinois standout played with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2008-2012) and Cardinals (2013) during his career, recording 4,236 yards and 37 total touchdowns.
Fighting through an injury-plagued 2013 season in Arizona, the former Pro Bowler rushed for 687 yards and eight touchdowns but fumbled a career-high four times.
In addition to addressing the struggles he had adjusting to the life of a football player with interests outside the playing field, Mendenhall also closed his piece with his plan for retirement.
As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me? I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city. I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out. That is the beauty of it! I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And I'll start with writing!