NFL

Why NFL WR Rishard Matthews’ Retirement Is Different

Rishard Matthews, a former wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, celebrates after scoring a touchdown

WR Rishard Matthews spent seven seasons in the NFL, but he’s not exactly a household name. That is partially because he spent all but five games in his career with the Dolphins and Titans, teams that don’t get a lot of national attention. So it’s not surprising that when he announced his retirement in training camp, it didn’t get much media coverage. His retirement probably should have received more attention than it did because Matthews was more blunt and open about the reasons for his retirement than players usually are.

Rishard Matthews’ playing career

Matthews played in 87 career games, with 38 starts. He caught 230 receptions for 3,160 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those aren’t overly impressive numbers, but he wasn’t always a team’s top target for the quarterback, and he never had a star quarterback throwing him the ball. The list of quarterbacks he played with is highlighted by Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Darnold, and Josh McCown.

Matthews didn’t seem to be happy with his teams much of the time. Following the 2015 season, he requested a trade from the Dolphins — who selected him in the 2012 draft– but didn’t get it. He did, however, sign a three-year contract with the Titans that offseason, and he played for them until the Titans cut him last September. He signed with the Jets almost a month later, playing five games with them.

Matthews and the Saints

The Saints signed the 29-year-old receiver in June after he had a tryout for them at their minicamp. He spent nearly two months with the Saints before playing in their first preseason game on August 9. He had one catch in the game for seven yards, which is typical with the lack of playing time players usually get in the preseason. What isn’t typical is what happened the next day. He chose to leave Saints camp, leading to the team cutting him. At the time, Saints head coach Sean Payton explained it by simply saying “it’s not for everyone.”

Matthews announces his retirement

On August 12, two days after being cut by the Saints, Matthews announced his retirement. As athletes tend to do in the social media age, he broke the news in an Instagram post, which had the heading “No Longer Exist.” Matthews began the caption on the post by writing “Rishard Matthews the football player No Longer Exist (sic) & it’s okay.” The caption, which contained a number of curse words, went on to talk about how regardless of what he is going through, “someone is going through something a shit ton worse,” something that he says it is important for athletes to understand.

The reasons behind Matthews’ decision

In text accompanying the caption, Matthews detailed the reasons why he decided to retire when he did. “The game has given me and my family so much but that No Longer Exist,” he begins. Matthews then mentions “beating your body up over and over for groups of people” and “the endless training & hours away from my family” as negative aspects of playing football. He continued by talking about “the brainwashing and dividing of culture for a small piece of jewelry,” referring to Super Bowl rings that most NFL players covet. Other issues Matthews raised as reasons he retired include:

  • “Being around too much Ego.”
  • “People using me for Entertainment.”
  • “As a receiver, people controlling your success.”
  • “All the people that never talk to you then hit you up for tickets.”

Matthews did end the post on a positive note, acknowledging that playing football helped him “become financially free” and saying that “it was cool being a Professional Football Player,” but ultimately the “Kids game No Longer Exist (sic)” for him.