Michael Bennett Retires, Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Ends NFL Career At 34

The outspoken defensive end is walking away from football to enjoy more family time and to focus on social issues.

Michael Bennett celebrates during Seattle Seahawks game
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The outspoken defensive end is walking away from football to enjoy more family time and to focus on social issues.

Michael Bennett is calling it a career, The New Yorker reported. After 11 seasons that included a Super Bowl victory and three Pro Bowl appearances, the veteran defensive end announced his retirement from the NFL in an Instagram post this morning.

“Retiring feels a little like death of self, but I’m looking forward to the rebirth – the opportunity to reimagine my purpose” Bennett said in the caption.

The post also included a quote from the Black American novelist, Toni Morrison.

“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that free self is another.”

The coronavirus pandemic and all of the sheltering in place that came with it really put things in perspective for Bennett. He told The New Yorker that having to focus on the essential aspects of his life was “clarifying” and that he wanted to be home with his family.

Bennett said that the opportunity to devote more time to social issues that he believes in was also a factor that led to his retirement decision. While he had been outspoken on issues of race for his entire career, Bennett had recently been working with Athletes for Impact, an organization that brings athletes together with one another to learn about and support various worthy causes.

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“Not everyone can be a Colin Kaepernick or Maya Moore,” he told The New Yorker.

He went on to say that players “can do small things in their community to make change.”

Bennett said he wasn’t surprised Kaepernick’s protest became entangled in a controversy involving the flag and armed service members, given the lack of Black leadership within most NFL franchises. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Kaepernick, who has been out of the league since 2016, will make any team that signs him “very happy.”

“It’s easy for us to talk about philanthropy,” Bennett said, “but hard to talk about humanity. It’s always an uncomfortable conversation.”

In 2017, Bennett expressed his frustration with reporters after a Seahawks practice in the middle of the season.

“Is there really a time that we shouldn’t talk about equality? We find time to talk about the Kardashians,” he argued.

After playing college football for three years in his home state at Texas A&M, Bennett signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2009 before being waived. The pass rusher then hooked up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for one season before returning to Seattle, where he helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII in 2016. Bennett was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2015-2017.