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Monday, March 10, 2014

Rashard Mendenhall Retires from the NFL

Retirements of non-superstar players are rarely interesting news. Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall (career - 4,236 yds., 37 rush TD, 3.9 avg.) was a quality player during his six NFL seasons, but will not have a bust in Canton, Ohio with his name on it in 2019 or beyond.

However, through the magic of Twitter, Mendenhall, whether you like him or not, has demonstrated deeper and more thought provoking expression that most professional athletes. His retirement statement was no different. If you expected the tired, washed-up cliches, don't. The following are Mendenhall's words, published in USA Today. I thought the readers may find them interesting. 

Rashard Mendenhall:

“I decided not to hold a press conference because I didn’t want to have to say things that were cliché. I’ve done enough of that since I’ve been playing football. I actually didn’t really plan on saying anything about my retirement at all. I just kind of wanted to disappear.

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.

Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown.Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called a ‘dumb n—–’. There is a bold coarseness you receive from non-supporters that seems to only exist on the Internet. …Over my career, I would learn that everything people say behind these computer and smartphones actually shape the perception of you — the brand, the athlete and the person.

Over my career, because of my interests in dance, art and literature, my very calm demeanor, and my apparent lack of interest in sporting events on my Twitter page, people in the sporting world have sometimes questioned whether or not I love the game of football. I do. I always have. I am an athlete and a competitor. The only people who question that are the people who do not see how hard I work and how diligently I prepare to be great — week after week, season after season. I take those things very seriously. I’ve always been a professional. But I am not an entertainer. I never have been. Playing that role was never easy for me.

So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.”

Best Wishes

I personally wish him the best of luck. Few professional athletes are as openly cerebral and diverse in thought and interests during their playing careers as Mendenhall has been. He is an example that others should not be reluctant to follow. 

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