They say money can’t buy happiness, but having it can certainly make you look for happiness in other forms. Such might be the case of Ali Marpet. Marpet shocked the NFL world by announcing his retirement from the NFL this week at the tender age of 28. That’s right after just 7 seasons Marpet is looking forward to finding the next chapter of his life. Let’s be clear about one thing before we go any further: Marpet is leaving the game while he’s at his absolute peak. Marpet just completed his first Pro Bowl season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How good has Marpet been? From 2018 to 2021, Marpet registered a 93.7% pass block win rate, ninth in the league among guards, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He became one of just six players to post a pass block win rate of 92% or higher at guard in each of the past four seasons. That’s a dominant level of play. Oh by the way, Marpet was scheduled to make 10 million dollars in salary this upcoming season, 10 stinking million. So why leave now?
First of all, money should not be a problem for Marpet, who’s made close to 35 million in his playing career. He’s also been to the mountain top in his sport, winning Super Bowl 55 when the Bucs beat down the Chiefs 31-9. Marpet is basically playing the long game with his body and his life by stepping aside from football. Here’s what his father Bill told ESPN about his son’s decision: "I think he accomplished his goals, values his health, is looking for more challenges. Ali has a very strong inner voice, and he is courageous enough to follow it. I'm in awe.”
Also understand one thing about Ali Marpet: he’s always been a different dude. When he was drafted in 2015 out of tiny Hobart College in upstate New York he became the 1st player drafted from that school since 1937, and the highest drafted player from a Division III school ever. Hobart is not a place where you go to prepare to be drafted in the NFL, it’s a place where you go to prepare yourself for life. And that’s what Marpet is doing. With a ring on his finger and a HEALTHY balance in his account he’s deciding to move on to the next chapter of his life with his body and mind still somewhat intact. He wasn’t the first to make this decision, Hall of Fame Wideout Calvin Johnson retired after 9 seasons, but you’re going to see a lot more players make this choice. Players now are more generously paid than ever before and are more aware of the potential consequences to their bodies playing for 10-15 years, especially on the offensive line where collisions are literally the name of the game. It is somewhat coincidental that his retirement comes in the same off season where his QB Tom Brady also walked away albeit after 22 seasons. You can play QB a lot longer and healthier with the way the game is legislated now.
So a toast to Ali Marpet: the kid from the tiny college in upstate New York who not only made it to where the big boys play, but dominated. He’s now got a lifetime to figure out his next passion and the money to make it happen along with a little thing called a Super Bowl ring as well. Sounds like that Hobart education really did pay off for him. Odds are, we’ll be hearing about more Ali Marpets in the future, not less.