Veteran defensive end Michael Bennett announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday after 11 seasons and a Super Bowl title.
Bennett, 34, shared the news in an Instagram post where he said that while retiring “feels a little like death of self,” he’s optimistic about “the opportunity to reimagine” his purpose.
“I would like to thank my wife and children, who have sacrificed so much for me to succeed,” he said in the post. “I’m looking forward to supporting them the same way they have me these past 11 years. I have never been more at peace in my life.”
An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, Bennett was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 before being claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bennett would go on to play three seasons in Tampa before returning to the Seahawks where he would be named to three consecutive Pro Bowls and was a member of the Super Bowl XLVIII championship team.
“As the great Toni Morrison said: ‘Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another,’” he continued in his post.
While his time in the league comes to an end, Bennett told The New Yorker in an article published on Tuesday that he intends to use his platform to continue his work on social and racial injustices.
He added that spending quality time at home with his family as a result of the pandemic solidified his decision to retire.
Throughout his 11-year career, which also included stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and most recently the Dallas Cowboys, Bennett totaled 359 tackles, 69.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.