Michael Bennett has called it a career. The star NFL defensive end has announced his retirement from the league on Tuesday after spending 11 seasons with five different teams. Bennett said on Instagram that he's going to spend more time with his family.
"Retiring feels a little like death of self, but I'm looking forward to the rebirth - the opportunity to reimagine my purpose," Bennett wrote in his Instagram post. "I would like to thank my wife and children, who have sacrificed so much for me to succeed. 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." Bennett ended the post with a quote from novelist Toni Morrison, which said: "Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another."
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In an interview with The New Yorker, Bennett explained why he's retiring from the NFL now. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family, which he has done this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also wants to focus on other projects he's working on, including working with an organization called Athletes for Impact, which helps connects athletes and provides opportunities to learn about worthy causes they can support. He told Louisa Thomas of The New Yorker, "Football means so much to me" and he loves the "safe haven" the game gives a person.
Bennett, 34, was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He was cut from the team in October of that year only to be picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent the next three seasons. His best season with the Bucs was in 2012 when he started all 16 games and posted 41 tackles, nine sacks, and three forced fumbles. After 2012, season, Bennett signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks and had another productive season, registering 18 tackles and 8.5 sacks. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl that year, and Bennett signed an extension with the team. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2015-2017 and posted 23.5 sacks during that span. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 and finished the year with 34 tackles and nine sacks. Bennett was then traded to the New England Patriots in 2019 but only played six games before being sent to the Dallas Cowboys. In his career, Bennett registered 69.5 sacks.