Former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is only a few months removed from announcing his retirement from the NFL, but he says he doesn’t have any second thoughts about making the decision to end his career.
A number of injuries led Baldwin to make the tough decision, and it was a decision process that took more than a year to play out.
“It was a process longer than just last year,” Baldwin said, according to ESPN’s Brady Henderson.
“I think when you come into the NFL or any entertainment business as a young person, you have to be selfish, you have to be self-centered because it’s all about self-preservation in that arena. I’m not saying this is the general population of athletes and entertainers, but I think a lot of us struggle with the concept of having a god complex, thinking that we’re invincible and that we’re immortal in some ways, and when you start to come to grips with the reality of being mortal and knowing that this is all going to come to an end at some point, you start to see the world differently. Perspective changes. I’ve been going through that process for a number of years. It actually started my second year in the NFL, understanding that eventually there’s got to be a plan.”
Baldwin discusses adjusting to life without football.
“It’s more so that my identity has been wrapped up in football since I was 6 years old,” Baldwin 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 reunderstand who I am in the greater scheme of things and how I fit into the world.”
Baldwin also shared his thoughts on Andrew Lucks shocking retirement, directing criticism with the commentary that accompanied Luck’s recent announcement.
“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.”
As far as the end of his career, Baldwin is fine with it truly being the end, shutting down any chance of a potential return to the NFL.
“No,” Baldwin said. “I’m done with football.”