After watching his past two seasons get cut short due to knee injuries, veteran nose tackle Kris Jenkins has decided to hang up his cleats.
Jenkins, a Jets salary-cap casualty who was released in February, announced his retirement Wednesday, ending a 10-year run with the Jets and Panthers. The soon-to-be 32-year-old tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the Jets' season-opening loss to the Ravens, forcing him to miss the bulk of the 2010 campaign.
He had been rehabilitating with the hopes of playing one more season, whether it was with the Jets or somewhere else. But the 6-5, 360-pound behemoth elected to call it a career instead, pointing out that his body won't truly let him do it.
"It's bittersweet," Jenkins told me this afternoon. "My mind is always willing. I've been playing football since I was eight years old and it's been a part of my life in so many ways. It's still not all the way sinking in that I'm transitioning to life after football. But on the other end of it, my body has been telling me otherwise. And that's where I have to be honest.
"I've got to be a father, I've got a lot of stuff that I've got to take care of. I can't afford to be in a wheelchair during the best times of being a dad."
Jenkins, who spent three seasons with the Jets, was doing everything he possibly could to get back on the field for one more season, spending time working out at the TEST facility in Martinsville, N.J. with the likes of linebacker Bart Scott and others. The four-time Pro Bowler even said earlier in the offseason that he preferred to take his talents to a team that plays all its home games on natural grass and not on an artificial surface.
He believed the turf helped contribute to his two torn ACLs and thought lining up for at least eight games on grass wouldn't be as taxing on his surgically-repaired knee. However, the more he thought about it -- and with everything his body was telling him -- the guy who managed to play in all 16 regular-season games in just six of his 10 seasons knew riding off into the retirement sunset was the right thing to do.
"That quality of life, I owe my wife and I owe my family," he said. "It has to come first."