Former Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall said recently that he won’t miss being in the NFL, mostly because he was tired of living a “private life in the public eye.”
In a recent blog for Huffington Post, the 26-year-old said he endured a lot as a pro athlete, including being the target of racial slurs online, which is why he didn’t plan to hold a news conference or even announce that he’s retiring.
Mendenhall would’ve been an unrestricted free agent this week, but has chosen to retire instead.
“I just kind of wanted to disappear,” Mendenhall wrote. “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 OK with the idea of fading to black, and my legacy becoming, ‘Whatever happened to that dude Rashard Mendenhall? He was pretty good for a few years, then he just vanished.'”
In six years, five being with the Pittsburgh Steelers who drafted him, he recorded 4,236 yards on 1,081 carries (3.91 yards per carry) and 37 touchdowns. He’d signed a one-year contract with Arizona for $2.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus. However, Mendenhall was plagued with injury throughout, suffering a shoulder injury his rookie season, a torn ACL in 2011 and turf toe in 2013.
In his blog post, he said he still has a passion for the game, but being in the public eye was something he could no longer endure.
“Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown,” Mendenhall wrote. “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 n****r.’ ”
As for his future after the NFL, he wants to travel the world and write. “As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me?” he wrote. “I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city.
“I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out. That is the beauty of it! I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And I’ll start with writing!”