Rashard Mendenhall hinted last month that he was wrestling with a decision to walk away from the NFL after spending last season with the Arizona Cardinals.
Now the running back’s mind is made up. Here’s a tweet from Mendenhall’s agent Sunday:
The reports are true: @R_Mendenhall is retiring from the NFL. Rashard will explain why in his own words very soon. Stay tuned.
â€” Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) March 9, 2014
Mendenhall explained his decision at great length in an interesting article posted Sunday on The Huffington Post.
“I’ve always been a professional. But I am not an entertainer,” Mendenhall wrote. “I never have been. Playing that role was never easy for me. The box deemed for professional athletes is a very small box. My wings spread a lot further than the acceptable athletic stereotypes and conformity was never a strong point of mine.”
After averaging a paltry 3.2 yards per carry compared to backfield mate Andre Ellington’s 5.5, Mendenhall was facing an uphill battle to land a starting job and guaranteed money on the open market.
With Mendenhall out of the picture, coach Bruce Arians plans to make Ellington a focal point of the Cardinals offense.
The No. 23 overall pick in a stacked running-back class from the 2008 NFL Draft, Mendenhall finishes his career with 4,236 rushing yards, 39 total touchdowns and a per-carry average of 3.9 yards.
Once viewed as a versatile, light-footed, hammer-dropping successor to Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis in Pittsburgh, Mendenhall never bounced back from a 2011 ACL tear. The Steelers faithful grew exasperated by his penchant for turning to the spin move in tight spots instead of bowling over tacklers.
Mendenhall’s Steelers career ended on a sour note when he was suspended for not showing up for a game in 2012.
It became apparent recently that football did not dominate the conscientious 26-year-old’s life. After the 2013 season, Mendenhall told Arians that he planned to write books and try new ventures outside of the game.
He has plenty of time to chase those other dreams with his body and mind intact after six seasons in the NFL.
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