Cowboys Pro Bowl Offensive Lineman Abruptly Retires from NFL

Travis Frederick

Getty Travis Frederick

Travis Frederick is calling it a career.

The longtime Dallas Cowboys center announced in a lengthy statement on Twitter Monday he’s retiring from the NFL, a stunning revelation that rocked the sport’s landscape and may significantly alter the team’s future plans.

“After much consideration, discussion, and reflection, I have decided to retire from football. This was not an easy decision. I entered the league at 22 years old, unsure of where life would lead. I since have married, welcomed two beautiful, healthy children into this world, and achieved professional levels of which I could have never dreamed.

Playing football has given me many amazing things. I had the good fortune to play on very successful teams, participate in Pro Bowls, and even be named All-Pro. I have been surrounded by not only elite-level athletes and coaches, but elite-level men. I have learned from and worked aside some of the game’s best players and coaches. Surprisingly, what I learned from them on the field paled in comparison to what I learned off the field: specifically, how to be an impactful member of the community, reliable teammate, and devoted family man.

I started a journey almost two years ago that completely blindsided me. When I developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, I did not know how to handle things. I was scared. That experience forced me to reevaluate my life priorities. I spent much of that year thinking about both the past and the future. I realized how fortunate I was to play a game for a living. I realized how fortunate I was to make friends and become teammates with some great men. Most of all, I realized the importance of my family and how much I want to be there for their peaks and valleys as they were for me.

Football is risky. Each day, players go to work knowing this could be their last day playing. Facing the potential end of my career because of my illness forced me to imagine life after football. I had to prepare for my career potentially ending. Some players fear life when it no longer revolves around football; the moment one stops playing the sport to which one’s identity and dreams have been tied to for 20 years. After months of contemplation, I not only accepted that moment, but I also surprisingly found myself welcoming the moment. I was ready for the next stage of my life; however, the competitor in me would not accept going out without returning to the field.

I made my return to the field, played well overall, and was selected to the Pro Bowl, but it was a difficult year for me. Each day I faced a struggle: I could no longer perform at my highest level. Playing “well” is not what I expect of myself and is not what my teammates deserve. Because of this, I know my days as a football player are done. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, and I walk away with my head held high.

I thank the Jones family, the entire Cowboys organization, and my teammates for allowing me to go on this wild ride. I am very lucky to have played my entire career for and with the greatest sports franchise and fanbase in the world. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the support and opportunity over the last 7 years. I thank my family and friends for their support and for enduring my crazy schedule. Most of all, I thank my wife, Kaylee, for her unending support and belief in me. She handled the NFL craziness with beauty and grace. No one gives enough credit to the significant others in the NFL.

I am so thankful for the last 7 years; however, I look forward to the next chapter of life. Kaylee and I will continue to make a positive impact on the Dallas community which has given us so much. Best of luck to the 2020 Dallas Cowboys and the franchise in the future.”

Chosen with the 31st overall pick in the 2013 draft, Frederick was a true ironman for the Cowboys, making all 96 starts across his seven-year career. He missed the entire 2018 season with his aforementioned autoimmune disorder.

Frederick, who just turned 29, walks away with five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections (one first-team, two second-team) to his name. He pocketed $39.718 million in career earnings, a majority of which came via the six-year, $54.4 million extension he signed in 2016.

Frederick retires having logged 1,117 offensive snaps (99.64 percent), most among all of the Cowboys’ stalwart offensive linemen, including fellow perennial Pro Bowlers Zack Martin and Tyron Smith.

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Jerry Jones’ Statement

It wouldn’t be breaking news without the reaction of the Cowboys’ owner/general manager. Jones dropped a classy message to the departing Frederick, thanking him for his time in the silver and blue.

“Travis Frederick, by the nature of his center position, was the core piece of what I believe to be one of the most talented and skilled NFL offensive lines that has been assembled,” Jones said, per 105.3 The Fan. “His leadership ability, production and intelligence put him at the top level of interior offensive lineman in our league for many years. At the pinnacle of his success, his career on the field was only exceeded by a rare display of coverage and determination in overcoming a life-threatening illness and returning to the game – a challenge that could only be completed by a person with rare levels of perseverance and strength.

“As a contributor to our community, a family man and a professional person, he has distinguished himself as an exemplary representative of this organization. And for the rest of his life, when his name is mentioned in the same sentence with the Dallas Cowboys, he will be lifting the standards of excellence and esteem that has characterized the history of our proud franchise,” Jones said.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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