After 12 seasons, former NFL lineman Mathis knew it was time to retire
Evan Mathis has done pretty much everything he could do let everyone know he has retired as an NFL player.
Everything, that is, except for file any paperwork making the declaration official.
A guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday morning, Mathis noted how that is not his way of leaving the door open for a return to the field.
“There’s nothing to file; there’s no official retirement,” he said. “You just quit.”
Mathis said when the season ended he called his agent letting him know he was ready to file that paperwork, but was informed there wasn’t really anything for him to do save for maybe tell interested teams his career was over.
So, the 35-year-old found a different way to make it official.
“That was me announcing my retirement,” Mathis said of the tweet.
The guard calling it quits after the 2016 campaign was not a surprise. After winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos the prior season, he joined the Cardinals on a one-year deal and at the time said that once he decided to play, he was going to be “all in” for the team.
On Tuesday, he said he expected it to be his final season, and was hoping he would remain healthy and effective, finishing strong while walking away with something left in the tank.
“But it kind of was the opposite of that,” he said. “I could not keep going if I wanted to, probably.”
To say the 2016 season was a rocky one for the two-time Pro Bowler would be an understatement.
Mathis underwent ankle surgery in June, and though he was back for training camp, missed some practices before being declared ready for Week 1. He left late in that game with a sprained foot, and while he battled through the injury and played in Week 2, a toe injury sidelined him for Weeks 3 and 4. He came back for Week 5, but left that game, too, before landing on injured reserve due to the ankle.
All that is why Mathis said he did not struggle with the concept of retiring, because he knows he could not still be the player he once was. It was a shame, because Mathis said he entered the opener against New England feeling great before someone fell on him in the fourth quarter.
“And then there’s this kind of chain of events there that led to my demise,” he acknowledged.
A veteran of 12 NFL seasons with six different teams, Mathis said he will be fine without football, spending more time with his gym, Zone Athletic Performance, and making sure to stay busy. He also has a goal to go from 18.4 percent body fat down to six percent, and by the time he gets there it’s not likely he will resemble the player who battled in the trenches for so many years.
One thing he has little interest in is getting into coaching, however, because he said he’s seen the kind of life that career path can give you and does not want to spread himself thin with that kind of commitment.
But when it comes to the team he is leaving behind, Mathis said he understands why the Cardinals are looking to move D.J. Humphries to left tackle, saying the young player is more comfortable there, while Jared Veldheer can play either tackle spot.
As for who might take over his former right guard spot, he has a thought there, too.
“I liked what Cole Toner did in the short time I was with him,” he said of the fifth-round pick out of Harvard. “He was a guy who I didn’t expect much from him early, but he really impressed me and he was someone who continually improved. No matter what he was doing, he was working hard to get better.
“I saw drastic increases just in that short year with him.”
Mathis also offered praise for Evan Boehm, a fourth-round pick out of Missouri who played some guard but was drafted as a center.
“I think those guys, they worked hard — they were always working out, trying to put the weight on. They were always paying attention to the mental aspect of the game,” Mathis said. “It seemed like they have the work ethic to have successful careers.”