Mendenhall confirmed last night that he was retiring from the game, after speculation over his future had been mounting for the past week.
The former running back explained his decision to retire via his Huffington Post blog after six seasons in the NFL.
Mendenhall was a free agent at the end of the season, and was not expected to be retained by the Arizona Cardinals, due to emergence of rising star Andre Ellington at running back.
Rather than facing free agency, which begins tomorrow, Mendenhall has called time on the sport for good.
He joined the Cardinals last year, after five successful seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers which included two trips to the Super Bowl.
Mendenhall won the Super Bowl with the Steelers in his rookie year, at the end of the 2008 season, as the Steelers beat the Cardinals to lift the Lombardi trophy.
But the 26-year-old has decided to call time on the sport, noting that he was no longer willing to put his body at risk.
“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.”
He also explained how the “the culture of football now is very different from the one I grew up with.”
“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 added.
He is now ready to explore life away from football and explained how he will now look to “live in a way that I never have before” by following up other interests.
“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!
image: © pleeker