Anquan Boldin’s Decision To Retire From NFL Influenced By Charlottesville Tragedy

Less than two weeks after informing his head coach, Sean McDermott, that he was 100 percent committed to football, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement from the game.

In a statement on Monday, Boldin said he retired to make “the larger fight for human rights a priority.”

He added Monday that his decision to hang up his cleats had a lot to do with the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, mentioning he was not comfortable at all with how divided the country appears to be. Boldin’s decision, regardless of how sudden it came, is still a commendable one. The fact that an athlete of his stature understands that there are bigger things in life than football, that fact alone, will put him in the good gracious of many people in the long run. Boldin, who won the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, plans to dedicate his time and efforts to humanitarian work.

In the short term, however, Anquan Boldin’s sudden decision to walk away from the game after a terrific 14-year career leaves his team scrambling for a solution. Three days after signing Boldin, the Bills traded former Number 4 overall pick, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2018 second-round pick. Without his top receiver, quarterback Tyrod Taylor struggled in a preseason loss Thursday to the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing two interceptions and posting a lousy 12.0 quarterback rating.

A pass intended for Anquan Boldin gets picked off

One preseason game does not make a season, and Tyrod Taylor will still have plenty of opportunity to show what he’s made of. Boldin’s presence in Buffalo, though, could have served as a calming influence on their young quarterback, their offense, and really the entire team. The Bills could have used Boldin’s experiences to gain some wisdom on matters such as what it takes to win a world championship. Boldin appeared in two Super Bowls, losing the first in 2008 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, and winning the second when he was a part of the Baltimore Ravens team in 2012.

One reason why the Bills felt comfortable enough to trade Sammy Watkins was because they felt really good about the signing of Anquan Boldin and had anticipated counting on him to make a significant contribution to their team this year. Team General Manager, Brandon Beane, who has since spoke fondly of Boldin and his short stint with the team, even used Boldin’s signing as an example of why he felt the Bills were still able to win this season.

“Everybody’s forgetting we signed Anquan last week,” Beane said on August 11, after the Watkins trade. “This is not a throw-in-the-towel thing at all.”

Boldin’s contract, which he signed on August 7, was a one-year deal with a $1 million signing bonus. It remains unclear whether he will pay back the bonus or whether the team will ask for the money back.

Boldin remained steadfast in his decision when speaking to reports on Monday, insisting that his decision to retire had nothing to do with the trade of Watkins or the struggles of Tyrod Taylor.

“It was about what happened in Charlottesville, not what happened in Buffalo,” Boldin said, reiterating his desire to contribute more to causes outside of football.

Boldin and others getting their message out there

[Featured Image by Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Images]