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Mendenhall Retires at 26 After Six Seasons as Running Back

NFL Running Back Rashard Mendenhall
Rashard Mendenhall, then with the Pittsburgh Steelers, looks on from the sidelines during a game on November 18, 2012. Mendenhall retires with 4,236 rushing yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. Photographer: Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Running back Rashard Mendenhall retired from the National Football League at the age of 26, saying that he no longer wished to risk his health “for the sake of entertainment.”

“I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality,” Mendenhall who played last season with the Arizona Cardinals, said in a blog post on “And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.”

Mendenhall, who would have become a free agent this week, battled through injuries last season to rush for 687 yards and eight touchdowns on 217 carries. Having played his first five seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and twice rushed for more than 1,100 yards, he retires with 4,236 rushing yards and 37 rushing touchdowns.

Mendenhall made $2.5 million last season with the Cardinals. He earned $15.1 million over his six-year career, according to Pro Football Talk, an NBC Sports website that focuses on the National Football League.

“As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me?” Mendenhall said. “I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city.”

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