Noted running back Rashard Mendenhall has retired after six years in the NFL. In comparison to the average football career, six years is fairly lengthy. But what’s interesting in Mendenhall’s case is that he could’ve stretched his career out at least a couple more years.
Sure, the 2013 season wasn’t a career-best for Mendy, as he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. But the Arizona Cardinals did give him 217 carries, which he turned into 687 yards and 8 touchdowns while splitting work with Andre Ellington.
Last month, through his blog on Huffington Post, Mendenhall opened up about a religious vision he had two years ago. He saw himself swimming in a large body of water at night, commenting that this would be dangerous under normal circumstances. However, he was swimming towards a statue of the Blessed Mother and felt protected during his journey. Mendenhall concluded his post by writing:
That day I sat on my couch two years ago was the very next day after I tore my ACL in week 17. The journey I envisioned is the two years of rebuilding that would follow. And 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.
Now that the rebuilding process is over, it looks like Mendenhall is ready to move on from the game after a pretty solid career. His pro football days began when he was picked 23rd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Showing an excellent blend of speed (4.41 forty time) and power (26 bench press reps) at the combine, Mendenhall was looked at as Pittsburgh’s running back of the future.
His rookie season didn’t go as planned, though, when he suffered a season-ending fractured shoulder after a hit by Ray Lewis. Mendenhall would come back strong in the 2009 season when he rushed for 1,108 yards and 7 touchdowns on 242 carries (4.6 YPC). He did even better in 2010, racking up 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns on 324 carries. This year also saw Mendenhall play in the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers, which Pittsburgh lost.
2011 marked a decline in Mendenhall’s production and carries, though he still remained an integral part of the team. He rushed for 928 yards and 9 TD’s on 228 carries. He rarely played in 2012 and tore his ACL at the end of the year. However, Mendenhall was still able to land a $2.5 million contract with Arizona last season, which shows that he probably could’ve continued finding work in the NFL if he felt like doing so.