Former Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin retired on a more conventional timeline than we’ve seen lately.
And he said this week he intends to stay retired.
Baldwin told Brady Henderson of ESPN.com that he’s had no second thoughts about his decision to walk away after eight seasons in the NFL.
“No,” he said. “I’m done with football.”
Injuries forced Baldwin to reconsider the timetable, but he said he started thinking about walking away well before last season. And now, even though he misses the sport, he’s finding new outlets. He’s working with local officials to build a $15 million community/health center for underserved youth in Renton, Washington.
“It’s more so that my identity has been wrapped up in football since I was 6 years old,” he said. “Navigating not having that, not having the instant feedback and the false affirmation of what my value was in the world because I had caught touchdowns on some days, I’m navigating that as a human on a very human level.
“That process has been challenging to say the least, but it’s also been a rewarding one because it’s allowed me to refocus my passions but also to re-understand who I am in the greater scheme of things and how I fit into the world.”
That makes him sound like his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck, who retired Saturday night after the weight of repeated injuries took a toll on him.
“It’s kind of frustrating to watch kind of the commentary that’s been wrapped around Andrew retiring,” Baldwin said. “It’s a point in life that I think everybody reaches, whether you’re in sports, entertainment or at a desk job or at a factory. You come to a point where you have to make a decision that is best for your life long-term, and as difficult as that is for people who have been in a realm that has put them on a pedestal, this false affirmation, this false validation that you are a better human being than other people because you catch touchdowns or because you throw touchdowns, it’s hard to pull yourself out of that. . . .
“The perspective is, I have to do what’s best for my wife and for my future children, and that comes first. And when you’re faced with the decisions of, ‘Well, if I continue to do this, what is my health going to be like when my child is born? When my kids are old enough to run around and play, am I going to be able to enjoy that experience and have that experience that I envision in my head? Am I going to be able to do that?’ So you come to the proverbial fork in the road as Andrew said, and you have to make a decision. The decision to play football originally and to put everything into it to accomplish these goals and to get money and all the things, that was somewhat selfish. It’s the same thing on this side. It just looks different. It’s all about self-preservation. As I’m trying to articulate it, it’s been a challenge, but I think the most important aspect of all of this is that I can look back, when I’m 60 years old, I can look back and say that I did everything possible to make sure that I was able to pick up my children when they were born, that I was able to run around with them when they were kids and to be there for them cognitively when they’re older and they need their father to be not just a father but their friend as they navigate the world. Those things have been vitally important to me, and those things take precedence over everything else now.”
Clearly, Baldwin has put some thought into this, as his former teammate did before making the decision to step away.