Former NFL First-Round Pick and All-Pro Player Announces Retirement After 10 Seasons

A former NFL first-round pick who was selected to the All-Pro team in 2016 is calling it a career. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who spent the majority of his career with the Houston Texans announced his retirement on Wednesday via Instagram. Last season, Mercilus spent the first half with the Texans before signing with the Green Bay Packers

"After 10 seasons in the NFL, I have finally made the decision to hang up my cleats and announce my retirement," he wrote, per CBS Sports. "Looking back, I was just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who didn't start playing the game until I was a freshman in high school. I had no idea at that moment how my life could change forever. There's so much this game has taught me. From being a great teammate, to being a forever student of the sport. From understanding the importance of integrity, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of being the best athlete and person on and off the field.   

"From adapting to new environments and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. To pushing my body and mind to its absolute limits, and understanding the importance of taking care of mind, body and spirit. The lessons I've learned in this game, I will take with me for the rest of my life."  

Mercilus was selected by the Texans in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Mercilus recorded 25 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. He had a breakout season in 2015, registering 52 tackles, 12 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Mercilius was selected to the All-Pro Second Team in 2016 after tallying 53 tackles 7.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries. On Oct. 19, 2021, Mercilius was released from the Texans, but the Green Bay Packers signed him two days later. On Nov. 14, Mercilus tore his bicep in the game against the Seattle Seahawks. He returned for the season finale and played in the Packers' divisional-round playoff game. 

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"It's a bittersweet goodbye, but I am very much looking forward to the next season of life," Mercilius wrote. Exploring new passions, business and investing in myself. I am grateful that I can willingly walk away from this sport that has given me so much, and I am looking forward to giving back along the way.