Why Rashard Mendenhall Is Done With the NFL
Rashard Mendenhall, most recently the running back for the Arizona Cardinals but most famously the running back for the Pittsburg Steelers, recently announced his retirement on the Huffington Post, where he is sometimes a contributor. Mendenhall, who is retiring early at the age of 26, had just completed a promising season with the Cardinals after spending most of 2012 sidelined by injury. The running back had become famous for his back to back 1000-yard campaigns in 2009 and 2010, as well as his Super Bowl play in that second year.
“The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal,” Mendenhall said. “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!’” Mendenhall, who opted out of a press conference because he felt he would be coerced into spouting cliches, also commented on the grind of having to deal with an always-in-public window. Something that Richie Incognito has recently discovered, too.
Describing fans of other teams as having a bold coarseness on the internet, No. 34 cited the changing culture of the football players that were coming up (also known as Get Off My Lawn You Damn Whippersnappers) as another reason to retire. Mendenhall also discussed the “motor” problem that plagues the public’s perception of some NFL athletes.
Often, when players don’t display an obvious and overwrought sense of passion for the game, they’re chewed out by fans and talking heads for not having the right kind of motor. That this is dumb is obvious. That this is prevalent is equally obvious, and the athletes are acutely aware of it. In his retirement post, Mendenhall discussed watching front offices change their tune after the pundits and the peanut gallery made their discontent known.
“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,” Mendenhall said. “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.”
Mendenhall has made over $7 million in his NFL career. He was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers with the 23rd pick in the 2008 NFL draft. During his lone season with the team, the Arizona Cardinals went 10-6 and missed the playoffs.