Rashard Mendenhall mentions fantasy football as a reason for retiring
Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall has decided to retire from football after just six seasons in the NFL. The 26-year-old battled knee and toe issues throughout much of the 2013 season, but injuries are not the reason for his decision. Mendenhall tried to explain himself in a well-reasoned essay he wrote for the Huffington Post on Sunday.
Mendenhall said he feels that he has “done it all” after reaching two Super Bowls, traveling all over and making a lot of money. He also cited hatred as a reason walking away from the game will not be that difficult.
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 nigger’. There is a bold coarseness you receive from non-supporters that seems to only exist on the Internet. However, even if you try to avoid these things completely — because I’ve tried — somehow they still reach you. If not first-hand, then through friends and loved ones who take to heart all that they read and hear”
Perhaps the most interesting part of Mendenhall’s explanation came when he spoke about how the game of football has changed. One significant part of that, he says, is the growing popularity of pop culture and fantasy football.
“Today, game-day cameras follow the most popular players on teams; guys who dance after touchdowns are extolled on Dancing With the Starters; games are analyzed and brought to fans without any use of coaches tape; practice non-participants are reported throughout the week for predicted fantasy value; and success and failure for skill players is measured solely in stats and fantasy points. This is a very different model of football than the one I grew up with.”
Mendenhall certainly isn’t the first NFL player to express his disgust with fantasy football, and he won’t be the last. He concluded that football players have become entertainers.
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.”
The entire piece is worth a read. It seems completely honest if nothing else, which is something we are not accustomed to seeing from professional athletes these days. Mendenhall is likely a player who will be just fine after retirement.