Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WorkPlace 101: NFL Player Retires At Age 26.

Aside from the obvious perils (ie: permanent brain/body damage), playing a professional sport has to be the dream job of 90% of American Men. Think about it: you get paid exhorbitant sums of money to play a children's sport for a few hours a day. There's the fame, the adulation, and of course the chicks. What person in his right mind wouldn't ride this gravy train until its (or your) proverbial wheels fall off?

Well, meet Rashard Mendenhall, an NFL running back who for a variety of reasons, is walking away from the game at the ripe age of 26.
Former Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall was tired of living a "private life in the public eye" as an NFL player, which included being the target of racial slurs online, he wrote in his most recent blog for Huffington Post, in which he explained why he retired at 26 years old.

Mendenhall wrote that he wasn't going to hold a news conference or announce his retirement, but after telling those close to him, there was a sense of surprise. That led to his explanation.

Reports began to surface Saturday that Mendenhall, who would've been an unrestricted free agent come Tuesday afternoon, was planning on retiring.

"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.'"

Mendenhall played six years in the NFL, five with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that drafted him, and with the Cardinals in 2013. The University of Illinois product has 4,236 yards on 1,081 carries (3.91 yards per carry) and 37 touchdowns as a pro. He'd signed a one-year contract with Arizona for $2.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.

But it wasn't football that drove Mendenhall away. He says his passion for the game was still alive and well, but his retirement was due to a combination of things -- having his life dissected under a microscope, wanting to live the rest of his life without the potential physical limitations that come with years of playing, and his dislike with how the game has shifted more toward entertainment and away from fundamentals.

"Imagine having a job where you're always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown," he 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-----.'"
Many have ripped Mendenhall for his decision, including a particularly petty Forbes columnist who surmises that Mendenhall is a "poor role model for millenials". I'm gonna pause her for a moment while you go ready that stupid bullsh*t.

[Sidebar: Is that woman out her rabbit a$$ mind? You can't possibly compare the very dangerous, very shortlived career of an NFL running back with any other profession. Juxtaposing Mendenhall, a guy whose career has a shelf life of 6-7 years tops, with entitled twentysomethings working for Google isn't even apples and oranges. It's apples and episodes of Banshee.[1] Two things that have no relation to each other whatsoever. I hope Forbes paid her with loose change for that nonsense.]

Others have asserted that Mendenhall never played that hard, lacked the passion to succeed in the NFL, and was likely headed towards a minimum salary backup role anyway. I think these are valid arguements, but the miss the overall point, and reveal another one that's bubbling just beneath the surface.

Namely, this guy is retiring, with a sh*tload of money in the bank, at the 1/3 point in his life. And everyone else isn't. And thus, a lot of people can't admit it, but they're envious of this guy.

I'll admit it. I am envious of this guy. Very envious.

I love my job, a lot actually. I work with cool people, go nice places and do fulfilling stuff. I cannot complain. But I will probably spend the next 20 or so years of my life (gleefully) collecting a paycheck from someone else out of sheer necessity, just like 99% of the rest of the world. While I love what I do, I could think of 829,292,133 other things I'd rather do with my day if money was no option. And with money not being an option (Mendenhall made over $15M in NFL salary and reportedly lives modestly), Mendenhall is moving on to find those 829,292,133 other things for himself.

We should all be envious. And we should all congratulate this guy for getting out the game on his own terms, with his knees, back, hips, shoulders, and brain still in tact.

Good for you, Rashard Mendenhall. Good for you.

Question: If you could walk away from your job today and live off a modest income for the rest of your life, what would you do?

Why I Retired At 26 [HuffPost]

[1] Best. Show. On. Television. And. It. Is. Not. Even. Close.

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