Rashard Mendenhall chose traveling and writing over playing in the NFL. This is not only his prerogative but his God-given right. How he retired and why he retired are as unique and convoluted as the 26-year-old’s talent.
There was no press conference announcing his retirement. He wrote a column about why he was retiring that was published by the Huffington Post. In the world of Mendenhall, that’s perfect.
He does not think as we think. He does not feel as we feel. He may, indeed, be alone as Edgar Allan Poe once penned in his masterpiece, Alone.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Why Rashard retired can be difficult to ascertain while reading his column. Although I’m paraphrasing, Rashard didn’t like being in the public eye. He wanted to minimize the risk of any long term damage to his body and brain, and he mentioned he didn’t like how the game has turned into more about entertainment as opposed to traditional fundamentals.
But “the why” is nobody’s business anyways. There are people questioning the authenticity of why he is walking away.
To that I ask, “Why?”
Rashard’s sensibilities are not yours, not mine, and although many may not understand how a guy can walk away from millions of dollars, it really doesn’t matter. But, whatever the motivation, one thing is for certain, he loves writing and traveling more than football.
Football has never been what defined Mendenhall. He would never let the game of football define who he is. But I wonder if he might discover something that I did when I retired: the game does define you more than you thought.
Or as the hair band, Cinderella, once sang: “Don’t know what you got, til it’s gone.”