After more than 8,000 scrimmage yards, 64 touchdowns and the 5th-most all-purpose yards in NFL history, Darren Sproles will retire after this season.
The 36-year-old Sproles officially announced the decision that's been expected on Saturday afternoon.
“My body is telling me it’s time to step away from the game,” Sproles said in a first-person farewell to the NFL on the team’s web site.
Sproles spent six years with the Eagles and made the Pro Bowl in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but injuries have limited him to just 15 games over the last three years.
Sproles, on Injured Reserve for the third straight year, has just 66 rushing yards and six catches this year, but he finishes his career with 3,552 rushing yards and a 4.9 average, 553 receptions for 4,840 more yards, a 9.5 career punt return average and nine return touchdowns, including nine on punts.
“I owe so much to the game of football and I gave it all I had in return,” Sproles wrote. “I gave it everything I had on every play. I rode it until the wheels fell off. That's the way I played and that's the way I practiced.”
At just 5-foot-6, Sproles became by far the most productive player of his stature in NFL history.
He was only a 4th-round draft pick of the Chargers back in 2005 but finishes his career with more total yards than everybody in NFL history other than Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
I’m proud that I was able to prove my doubters wrong,” Sproles said. “They told me that I wouldn't make it past a year in the NFL. Fifteen years later, I'm fifth all time in NFL history in career all-purpose yards. Look at the names who are above me on that list: Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith. To be part of such an outstanding group is an incredible honor. But it also goes to show that no matter what people say about you, you can still achieve great things if you believe in yourself and put in the work.
Sproles spent six years with the Chargers and three with the Saints.
The only players in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards, a 4.5 rushing average and 500 receptions are Sproles, LeSean McCoy and Tiki Barber.
His 4.9 rushing average is No. 8 in NFL history. His seven punt return TDs are 7th-most in NFL history, and his nine total punt/kick returns are 6th-most ever, behind Devin Hester (19), Mitchell (13), Eric Metcalf (12), Dante Hall (12) and Josh Cribbs (11).
Sproles thanked Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson and had particularly fond words for Duce Staley, his position coach.
He didn’t mention Chip Kelly, who he played two seasons for.
Sproles played his first NFL game on Sept. 11, 2005, for the Chargers against the Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
He played what appears to be his final game on Nov. 3 for the Eagles against the Bears at the Linc.
He went on Injured Reserve on Nov. 15 with a torn right hip flexor.
Spending the past month on Injured Reserve has been hard,” he wrote. “I want to be out there with my guys. But I've had the chance to spend a lot of time with my family and I'm at peace with this decision. My kids are kind of sad that my career is coming to an end because they told me that they love to see me play. They inspired me. They kept me going. I'm proud that they were able to see me play at a high level because I wanted to show my kids that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, as long as you are willing to work hard for it. There's no quit, especially when times get tough and rocky.
At some point in the next couple years Sproles will be added to the Eagles Hall of Fame.
This might be the end of Sproles’ career, but he’ll be an Eagle forever.
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