T.J. Ward is calling it a career in 2021. The veteran safety has decided he's achieved all he needs to at the NFL level, after being selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 38th overall pick in 2010 and then going on to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. That said, he won't seek a new NFL home to participate in anyone's training camp, instead opting to begin building his post-NFL career, or to simply enjoy what life might bring in the future.
In an official press release on Wednesday, the 34-year-old explains his decision to walk away from the game he feels gave him such a grand opportunity to better himself and his family.
Today, I want to announce my official retirement from professional football.
This period came fast, and yet it felt prolonged. We each have our own journey int his life and in this sport, and I proudly followed mine until my football path was complete. Regardless of the ups and downs, I stayed the course. Football is in my blood. I would play as long as I was able. In the end, I wasn't allowed to play anymore.
I am honored and blessed to have completed 8 NFL years! Second round draft pick, all-rookie team, all-pro, pro bowler and Super Bowl 50 champion. The journey has been amazing!
First, I would like to thank God for always keeping a hand over me and my family.I would like to thank my parents, Terrell and Laneita Ward, for always being my biggest support system and remodels. I am blessed to have you. To my younger siblings, thank you for challenging me and forcing me to be someone you could look up to. I'd like to thank my grandparents for creating and upholding values in our family that I will continue to pass down. Everything is because of you.
I would like to thank De La Salle high school for being a foundation, instilling ethics in me that I continue to carry. To the University of Oregon: Go Ducks! Thank you for the opportunity to continue my dream of playing college football. Coming in as a walk-on, I didn't know what to expect and I was provided the toolsI needed to progress. Thank you to the Cleveland Browns organization for drafting me and being my first NFL home! Thank you to the Denver Broncos for an amazing three years. It was a pleasure playing for such an amazing organization! Winning the Lombardi Trophy was the highlight of my career. NoFly! Thank you Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals for also giving me opportunities to be a part of your organizations.
To all of my fans, I love and appreciate you! Thank you! To my lady Cierra and son Terrell III aka Three, I love you with everything!
Finally, thank you football.
Ward entered the league as a Pac-10 champion at Oregon, jumping out of the gate for the Browns and earning honors as a member of the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2010. He'd earn his first Pro Bowl honor in 2013 as a member of the Browns, along with a second-team All-Pro nod, before taking his talents to Mile High, where he was key in helping Denver hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 50 after defeating then-league MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
"That was our mission: to become legends," Ward said of the 2015 Broncos, via Denver7 Sports. "To become staples in this organization. When you speak of the Denver Broncos, you can't speak about it without talking about that team."
He went on to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a short stay in 2017, and last season joined the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. A hard-hitting, high-IQ talent is what Ward will be remembered as -- along with being the consummate professional and team player.