Five NFL Players Moving On From Football

Patrick Willis

Five athletes in Patrick Willis (30), Jason Worilds (27), Jake Locker (26), Justin Smith (35), and Cortland Finnegan (31), have all decided to retire from the game of football this NFL offseason. Although their ages may not seem young in football years, the most important aspect of their decisions is that they are still young enough to continue living the rest of their lives they have ahead of them outside of football. A decision like retirement is clearly an emotional one for athletes because they are moving on from a game that they have fallen in love with beginning at a young age.

A great deal of thought and emotion goes into a decision like this, but definitely a decision we should all respect.  Many athletes that retire want the ability to walk away from the game before the game walks away from them.

In an emotional news conference to announce his retirement from the NFL, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis called it “One of his happiest days yet” because he is leaving the game on his own terms. Willis stated that he “can no longer handle the grind of NFL practices let alone the demands of game day.” Patrick Willis gave the game all that he can handle and it payed off. Willis was a 5 time First-team All-Pro and a 7 time Pro Bowler which built his name as one of the most dominant linebackers in the game.

Another member of the 49ers that was a big part of the franchises recent success, DT Justin Smith, has also decided to move on from football, according to multiple league sources. The 14 year veteran was a 3 time All-Pro player with 5 Pro Bowl appearances.

These two decisions are only a piece of the drastic changes going on in San Francisco. The 49ers have lost head coach Jim Harbaugh, running back Frank Gore, receiver Michael Crabtree, and guard Mike Iupati, whom have all contributed to the 49ers run to 3 straight NFC Championship games throughout the span of 2011-2013.

Adding to the retirement class this offseason were two very unexpected players on the list in Jake Locker and Jason Worilds. Jake Locker, quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, had a career plagued by continuous injuries, which could have ultimately led to his decision to retire. Perhaps he left the game before these injuries affected the rest of his life. Jason Worilds’ decision to retire was just as shocking. The 27 year old outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made a decision just like Jake Locker stating he has left the game “to pursue other interests.” Both felt that it wouldn’t be fair to their organizations if they no longer had the burning desire to play football.

Cortland Finnegan, the hot headed CB known for his on field brawl with WR Andre Johnson says goodbye to the game after 9 eventful seasons. Finnegan definitely left a name for himself in the league as he brought an attitude to the field that apparently wide receivers throughout the league did not like. Finnegan admits “I have made my share of mistakes” later stating that he also had “moments of glory.”

As big of a surprise as many of these retirement announcements were, let’s take the time to congratulate these players for the time they have spent in the National Football League.

-Follow me @SportsMeccaBran

-Brandon Belluardo

Photo Credit: http://www.willis52.com/wp-content/gallery/main/14.jpg

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