New England Patriots’ NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2008, Jerod Mayo, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 29.
The linebacker confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “After a lot of thought [my wife] Chantel and I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for what we consider a life changing event … that of becoming a New England Patriot for the past 8 years,” Mayo wrote.
“We are extremely grateful to ‘Thundercat’ [Patriots owner Robert Kraft], [Patriots president] Jonathan [Kraft], the Kraft family, Coach Belichick, the Pats organization, and the most amazing fans in contributing to these pages of our lives. As my family and I prepare for the future be sure that the Pats memories will always hold a special place in our hearts. #51 JMayo.”
While Mayo’s retirement comes while he is still in his prime, his decision is not necessarily a continuation of a trend exemplified by 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who quit the NFL last year at the age of 24 due to fears over head trauma. Mayo had struggled with knee, shoulder and pectoral injuries over the last three seasons – although he played every game in the most recent campaign – and was unlikely to be kept on by the Patriots this year with his $11.4m cap number the second highest on the team behind Tom Brady.
Mayo’s future could lie in coaching. According to the Patriots official website, fellow New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower said Mayo’s intelligence means he “could be a defensive coordinator” straight away if he so desired.
As well as winning defensive rookie of the year in 2008, Mayo was picked for the Pro Bowl twice, in 2010 and 2012. Mayo was also named a team captain by his team-mates in 2009, and 2015 and Julian Edelman and Chandler Jones paid tribute to him on Tuesday on Twitter.