Rashard Mendenhall played running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers for four years before being picked-up by the Arizona Cardinals. Now, at 26-years-old, he’s decided to retire. Mendenhall wrote a wonderful blog post for The Huffington Post about his decision. Skeptics presume that his decision is based on his desire for a larger contract, but Mendenhall’s own claims make more sense to me. In his post, he offers that he’s done as much as he wants to do in football and would now like to pursue his interests in “dance, art, and literature.” Mendenhall represents those of us who are quite comfortable knowing when we’ve had enough; who can admit when what the culture tells you is good doesn’t feel that way to you; who find it worthwhile to explore other areas of life we may find interesting; who can say, “I’m done.”
If what you enjoy in life and about life aligns with what the culture holds in high esteem, fine. For many of us, however, this alignment doesn’t hold. When such congruency fails to hold, being honest with one’s self about this rift opens up a path to worthwhile experiences that might just facilitate a higher quality of life. Rashard Mendenhall definitely offers a model for making a life from the materials and elements you find valuable and being honest about the stuff others tell you makes it so. I’m looking forward to seeing where Mendenhall goes next because it might actually be more interesting than having to listen to another former athlete offering commentary on ESPN or the NFL Network about the latest game through the lens of their own glory days.