Just days after being released from the Chicago Bears, former NFL retriever Johnny Knox has confirmed he will hang up his cleats for good.
“As an athlete, you don’t want to give up, you want to keep on fighting. That’s how I’ve always been,” Knox, 26, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “But it’s been on my heart for a while. I know how my body feels, and I know I’m not going to be the same and perform at the ability that I used to.
“So I’m moving on and going forward.”
A fifth-round pick for the Bears in 2009, Knox had loads of potential, and earned a Pro Bowl trip to Hawaii as kickoff returner in his rookie season.
In his second season as a receiver Johnny showed just as much promise, grabbing 51 passes for 960 yards and averaging 18.8 yards per reception. Towards the end of 2011 season, however, Knox suffered what would later prove to be a career-ending injury.
On December 18, in the Bears match up against the Seattle Seahawks, Knox was scrambling for a loose ball when he was bent backward on a hit by Anthony Hargrove.
As a result of the play, Knox suffered a thoracic-lumbar junction fracture/dislocation with neurological involvement and, during spinal-fusion surgery, additional ligament and soft tissue damage was discovered.
“He had to work himself back up to where he could even walk,” former receivers coach Darryl Drake told the Chicago Tribune. “He had to work to get himself up out of bed. Hopefully, he’ll continue to work and get himself back to where he can have the quality of life that he needs to have.”
Despite working diligently to rehabilitate, Knox never recovered sufficiently enough to make a return to the team.
He finishes his three-year NFL career with 133 receptions for 2,214 yards.
“God has better plans for me,” Knox said of his retirement. “He wouldn’t put me in a situation that I couldn’t handle. I have a lot of opportunities out there. I got some nice things going on so I’m just looking forward to that.”