NEW ORLEANS â€“ Saying he has concluded a "great chapter'' of his life, veteran right tackle John Stinchcomb is retiring from the NFL, just one season after helping the New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl XLIV.
Stinchcomb, the 37th overall pick in the 2003 draft from the University of Georgia, cited lingering knee and quad injuries plus a yearning to pursue a "second career'' in physical therapy as reasons for his abrupt retirement at the age of 32.
Stinchcomb, who was released by the Saints on Aug. 15, announced his retirement Thursday morning on WIST-690 AM.
"After I was released it went through my mind, 'What do you want to do?' '' said Stinchcomb, who was named the team's "Man of the Year'' in 2008. "I felt like if I played again, I'd like to have a lot more leg strength coming off that knee injury and try to rebound from that. Then, you're still putting yourself out there to further injury.
"Where my knee was at a month ago, I wasn't willing to do it, especially for another team full of guys that I don't know and care about on a personal level. If it wasn't for the Saints, then it wasn't for me. I enjoyed playing for them, and I felt like I was able to be there for a complete makeover for that team and experienced some wonderful things. So, I just decided it was a great chapter in my life and the Lord was leading me in a new direction. I don't have any intention of playing again.''
Prior to his release in mid-August, Stinchcomb had been a fixture at right tackle during the Sean Payton era, starting 80 consecutive regular-season games from 2006 through 2010, including the team's championship season in '09 when he was named to his first Pro Bowl.
He played for much of the 2010 season with a torn quad and underwent knee surgery in January. While serving as the team's player representative during the 131-day NFL lockout, he also went through post-surgery rehabilitation in his hometown of Atlanta.
Three days after starting against the San Francisco 49ers in a preseason game on Aug. 12 at the Superdome, Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis met with Stinchcomb and informed him they were going in a different direction with reserve tackles Zach Strief and Charles Brown.
"It was a smooth breakup, if you will,'' Stinchcomb said. "They showed a lot of respect for me and I appreciate that. It was an amicable parting of the ways and they did it respectfully. They told me up front and were honest and that's all you can ask as a player.
"At that time, I realized my knee wasn't there. It wasn't where I needed to be to play at the level and be able to push 300-pounders around. I just didn't feel comfortable where I was.''
Stinchcomb said his agent received inquiries from other NFL teams but, after mulling the options with his wife, Allie, he decided to pursue interests more befitting a college graduate with a major in pre-med.
"Ultimately, playing for another team wasn't where I felt like we needed to be,'' Stinchcomb said. "I had other options: One was to play with a different team; that wasn't something that I thought we should choose. Then, coaching became an option, and then working in the media presented itself.
"But I just don't feel like that's what I'm called to do next. I felt like playing for the Saints was a great chapter but it's time to move on to something else.''
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