Since I played my first snap at 12 years old, nothing in my life was more important than football. The game always came first.
Football has taught me a strong work ethic, a willing to get better every day and a desire to continue growing. It has taught me that while what you get is important, who you become is more important. All of these lessons I'll take with me into the next chapter.
Because today, I'm officially retiring from the NFL.
Everybody starts their NFL journey differently. You may be a first-round pick; you may be undrafted. But a willingness to sacrifice daily and dedicate yourself to the 1,000 micro-decisions that lead to winning will carry you far in a league where nothing is guaranteed.
I owe my ability to maintain single-minded focus to my father and the gift of grit and perseverance to my mother. While those have been foundational to my career, it was – perhaps, most importantly – their unconditional love that gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I'll never be able to repay them for that.
With sacrifice comes adversity. While I wouldn't change those long hours in the gym and on the field, I'm excited for the wide-open ventures ahead of me. Take a vacation when I want. Go back to school to get my MBA. Spend more time with my family and friends.
After stepping away from football in 2018, I knew if I came back, it would be to finish out my career on my terms. It also had to be with the right team, which I found in the Raiders. There's always hesitancy in coming back when you've been out of the game, but after a tryout with the Raiders, I immediately knew it was the place for me. It made me hungry to come back.
It felt like home the minute I got here. I'd played so long, and I'd gotten this "bad boy" reputation, but it just fit with the Raiders. They trusted who I was, and they let me play. And I played my ass off just to repay them for the opportunity.
What I'll miss most, though, is the brotherhood and camaraderie with my teammates, especially in the Silver and Black. It was empowering to have them trust me to bring stability, leadership, and work ethic to a young group of guys: Andre James, Kolton Miller, Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, just to name a few.
I love the Raiders organization, and Mr. Davis means the world to me. It's why after four teams and 15 years, I'm retiring a Raider.
My love of the game has always been what drives me. I know I'll miss being in the locker room. I love being with the guys, I love grinding, I love training camp, I love practicing during the season, I love just the competitive nature of it.
I love that you have to be at your best every day and especially on Sundays. It's our guys, our team, our scheme, our fan base versus everybody. Being in that locker room is special, looking guys in the eyes as you're getting ready to go compete. But I'm excited for this new view of the game – sit back and let the younger guys go.
I can't forget to give a shout out to Raider Nation, my people! I found myself reflected in you – gritty, hard-working people whose love of the game and this team is lifelong. I take great pride having played in both Oakland and Las Vegas in front of you and I'll never forget taking the field to the cheers of the most passionate fan base in the league.
I've dealt with injuries the last two years I never had before in my career. My body told me it was time, and I knew I was ready to hang them up. And though some in my inner circle might not believe me – I'm ready. There's no turning back.
My last few seasons couldn't have happened with a better group of men, guys that embraced me. I wanted to finish on my own terms. Not a lot of people get to do that in this league and that's why I'm so proud to retire with the Raiders.
I came back. I set my mission. I accomplished my goal.