Veteran defensive end Michael Bennett announced Tuesday he’s retiring from the NFL.
The Super Bowl champion took to Instagram to announce his retirement after an 11-year N.F.L. career, primarily with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.
He wrote: “Retiring feels a little like death of self, but I’m looking forward to the rebirth – the opportunity to reimagine my purpose.
“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.
“As the great Toni Morrison said: ‘Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.'”
Bennett started his NFL career in Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He returned in 2013 as a free agent, signing a day after Cliff Avril in one of the best weeks of free agency in franchise history.
Those two played a crucial role in turning an already great defense into a historically great one, with the Seahawks leading the NFL in scoring defense, total defense, pass defense and takeaways in 2013 on the way to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Bennett never shied away from sharing his opinions. In 2017, after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Bennett was part of a group of players who began protesting during the playing of the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and other forms of injustice.
But while most players knelt or raised a fist during the anthem, Bennett drew extra attention because he chose to sit on the bench.
He was later joined by a white teammate, offensive lineman Justin Britt, who put his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in solidarity.