Rashard Mendenhall Retires: NFL Running Back Calling It Quits At 26

Rashard Mendenhall has decided to retire after just six seasons in the NFL after his once promising career was ravaged by injury.

Mendenhall had a strong start to his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, but after tearing his ACL two seasons ago was never fully able to recover. He played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, getting 217 carries, and would have been a free agent likely to find a new team.

Instead, Rashard Mendenhall has decided to retire,according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The move is not entirely surprising. In a column for The Huffington Post published in February, Mendenall said he had a religious vision the day he tore his ACL.

“The journey I envisioned is the two years of rebuilding that would follow,” Mendenhall said. “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.”

The former Illinois star had a solid NFL career, rushing for 4,236 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns in six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. His best season was in 2010, when he rushed for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Steelers.

Mendenhall played in Super Bowl XLV for the Steelers that year, gaining 63 yards on 14 carries and scoring a touchdown in his team’s 31-25 loss.

As he retires, Rashard Mendenhall now joins a long list of running backs who called it quits with years left in the tank or after injury-plagued careers. Legendary rusher Barry Sanders retired in 1999 after 10 years in the NFL, ending in striking distance of Walter Payton’s career rushing record. In more recent history, promising Lions running back Jahvid Best left the NFL after a string of head injuries, though he harbored hopes of a comeback.