Matt's Take:



Who the heck walks away from the NFL at the age of 26? Especially when you are healthy and able-bodied.



How could a player, who is still relatively young, and serviceable walk away from potential earnings in $700,000-$3 million range?



Well, that's exactly what Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall has done after a six year career in the National Football League. And to be honest with you, I can't blame him.



Hear me out.



If you are not passionate about the game, why play? If you have dreams to do more than subject your body to untold amounts of punishment, why play? If you've made enough money to support yourself and your family, why play? If you want to travel the world and write about your experiences, why play?



To me, Mendenhall has more reasons not to play than he does to play. Good for him; stepping away is the right thing for him to do.



Sure, he could have signed another contract and made some more money, but that's not important to him. Now that your mind has been blown by an athlete walking away from millions of dollars, come back down to earth.



In a piece for Huffington Post, Mendenhall explained his decision making process. It's honestly a good read if you want to understand this more. He says the game of football has become more about entertainment than it has the actual sport.



While I agree with Mendenhall to a degree, our culture has turned to more of an entertainment-centric culture, which has its share of good and bad.



In today's world of multi-million dollar contracts being the norm, it's refreshing to see an athlete who, by all accounts, has a good head on his shoulders. It's refreshing to see this type of honesty.



Kudos to you, Rashard. Follow your passion — that's the true journey of life.



 



Andrew's Take:



There are no more plush pastures than a numbered field, as far as football players are concerned.



For every Michael Strahan, there’s 10,000 Antonio Cromarties. Not every player can replace Regis Philbin on one of America’s most popular television programs. But they can all feel that their services have an expiration date that is coming sooner than later. (The New York Jets released Cromartie this week. The organization doesn’t care if he has a dozen children for whom he must pay. Seriously, he has 12 kids, with eight women.)



But, I digress. I’ve written about this at least a dozen times. Reality becomes fleeting as success becomes constant.



Professional athletes, actors, musicians: They all achieved success by gambling. Sure, work ethic and natural talent were mostly necessary, but “luck” is just as vital in the creation of a financially successful athlete or artist.



That’s not how they see it, though. To them, the best-of-the-best, “superiority” deserves most of the credit. They think they have the ability to do anything and succeed.



To Rashard Mendenhall, “anything” is a literary career. This is why he retired last weekend, at the ripe-old-age of 26.



“Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, where you can never fully relax…” he wrote, explaining his decision.



Welcome to the real world!



Mendenhall just proved that he has no idea how the other 99 percent lives. I can’t wait for his money to run out.



Listen, I support the pursuit of happiness, but I don’t trust that Mendenhall understands how to provide himself with such feelings, or if he is even capable of being happy.



Based on his skill set, he should stay in the game as long as the game will have him.



But, whatever. Welcome to the writing world, Rashard. We’re all millionaires too, right Matt?