Rashard Mendenhall: Why I Retired At 26

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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. The fact that I was done playing would’ve been clear once some time had passed, and I hadn’t signed back with the Cardinals or any other team. Maybe people would’ve thought I couldn’t get another job. Either way, I was okay with the idea of fading to black, and my legacy becoming “What ever happened to that dude Rashard Mendenhall? He was pretty good for a few years, then he just vanished.”

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.

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