Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Longtime Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan thanks God in announcing retirement

At the age of 30 and intent to “leave the game on my own terms,” Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan announced Monday that he is retiring — or “transitioning” — from the NFL. A first-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech in 2010, he leaves after nine seasons with the Titans, playing 118 games and accumulating 306 tackles and 44.5 sacks.

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In his Instagram announcement, Morgan wrote, “It’s been a pure blessing to live out a childhood dream and I’m THANKFUL to the @titans organization for giving me my shot, my fans, friends and family over the years who’ve been a huge support and most importantly God for bringing me this far.”

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It’s been real… I’ve been playing this game since I was 9 years old. Over the years it’s brought a lot of struggle, triumph, adversity and joy to my life. It’s help shape me into the man I am today. But for the longest the game was “who I was”..it was my IDENTITY. I didn’t know who Derrick Morgan was outside of this game. I tried to shake this reality in a business that tells you your value IS your performance. However the one thing that helped me evolve as a man over the years was knowing that I couldn’t play this game forever..that there was life after football. I realized early on the importance of this platform and my goal has been to use it for good. I had a strong inclination going into this year that this would be my last. I’ve always said 2 things about my career. 1. I would play as long as it made sense. And 2. I wanted to leave the game on my OWN terms. And over 9years, 5 head coaches, 9 surgeries, and seeing a locker room turn over multiple times I am thankful to say that I accomplished both of these goals. It’s been a pure blessing to live out a childhood dream and I’m THANKFUL to the @titans organization for giving me my shot, my fans, friends and family over the years who’ve been a huge support and most importantly God for bringing me this far. I always hated the word “retire” it insinuates sitting on the beach and playing golf everyday (both good things) but I like the word “transition” better. I’m looking forward to this next phase of life and doing purposeful work through @kngdm_group and helping to create more opportunities for those who are underserved and overlooked. Once again thank you for the support And please stay tuned. I’m just getting started. ✌🏽

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Morgan intends to put his time toward some business opportunities that will “create more opportunities for those who are underserved and overlooked,” he wrote. One such venture, according to Forbes, is an Opportunity Zone fund to invest in marginalized communities.

“I’m at a time where, physically and mentally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to continue [playing],” Morgan told Forbes last week. “I feel at peace with the decision. I feel free in a sense to be able to wake up and put my mind and my energy towards things that are more purposeful to me at this time in my life.”

Morgan, who lists himself as a “Christ follower” first on social media, has long been a leader in the Titans locker room, the only pro team he ever played for. A regular starter since 2012, he helped last year’s defense to a No. 3 ranking in points allowed, and in 2017 helped Tennessee to its first playoff appearance since 2008.

Morgan will surely be missed by one teammate in particular. Fellow linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who joined the Titans in 2014, called Morgan not only a friend, but his accountability partner.

“He’s like my spiritual checker,” Woodyard said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in November. “Every day we check each other; he’s my accountability partner. And I feel like the walk we live as football players, that’s something that we must have inside our locker rooms to survive, you have to have that accountability partner.”

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