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Running back Rashard Mendenhall decides to retire from NFL at 26

Running back Rashard Mendenhall #28 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball against the Houston Texans at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals won 27-24.
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall has decided to retire from the NFL at the age of 26 years old. According to a report by ESPN on March 9, Mendenhall’s agent, Mike McCartney, confirmed the news via Twitter.

Mendenhall, who spent six seasons in the NFL, hinted at retirement back in February in a column he wrote for the Huffington Post. His official announcement does not come as a surprise. In the column he wrote about his journey coming to an end.

“As I write this, today is the day that the journey is over and I am fully at peace. Eagerly looking to a new way, which lies ahead.”

In a more recent column posted in the Huffington Post, Mendenhall attributed a changing culture in the NFL as a reason why he has decided to leave the game early.

“The culture of football now is very different from the one I grew up with. When I came up teammates fought together for wins and got respect for the fight. The player who gave the ball to the referee after a touchdown was commended; the one who played through injury was tough; the role of the blocking tight end was acknowledged; running backs who picked up blitzing linebackers showed heart; and the story of the game was told through the tape, and not the stats alone. That was my model of football.”

Mendenhall entered the league back in 2008 when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the first round. He joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, reuniting with coach Bruce Arians who was his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh from 2008-2011.

In his six seasons in the NFL, he rushed for 4,236 yards and scored 39 total touchdowns. As a free agent a healthy Mendenhall could’ve helped another football team, but he has his heart set on another career. He has an interest in writing books and in doing different things other than playing football.

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