Just 26 years old, Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall is calling it a career. Mendenhall, a six year veteran from Illinois, said he is content with what he achieved in his short stint in the league and the NFL. Originally a first round pick of the Steelers, Mendenhall spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals, rushing for 687 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Mendenhall’s retirement sheds an interesting light on the profile of a NFL player. We as fans tend to think that playing in the NFL is a paradise due to the celebrity and enormous salary that comes with the job. In reality, the NFL is a cutthroat money making machine. Players are milked for all the worth and then violently thrown away in favor of a younger crop of talent.
Mendenhall’s retirement has been deemed outlandish by these standards but is it really. He did suffer an ACL tear in 2011 season and hasn’t been able to regain the same explosiveness he had before the injury. Mendenhall reminds me of a lesser talented Ricky Williams. Both walked away from the game at a young age to pursue other ideologies. When playing football no longer becomes fun, the logical choice is to choose another career. People change careers every day, Mendenhall will be unjustly judged because he performed under the scrutiny of the public eye. I wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors and hope he finds the happiness he longs for.