Former Bills RB Suddenly Announces His Retirement at Age 27

Damien Harris

Getty Former Bills running back Damien Harris at FedExField on September 24, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills are in the midst of a major roster shakeup ahead of the 2024 NFL season. While it was unclear what the future held for running back Damien Harris, who was officially a free agent, the veteran has decided to hang up his cleats.

The 27-year-old shared the surprising news on Instagram, noting how he “found the strength to walk away from the game I love so much.”

Harris wrote, “For the past 20 years, playing the game of football has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. Getting to represent the name on the back of my jersey on and off the field, getting to compete at the highest level with and against the best competitors while winning championships.”

Originally drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft, the Alabama alum was grateful to be “coached by 2 greatest head coaches of all time in Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.” These opportunities were “just a small part of what God has done in my life with the game of football,” he wrote.

The two-time college champ went on to thank “every person that has been a part of and will continue to be a part of this journey. From his hometown in Brassfield, Kentucky to Buffalo, New York, he thanked “every teammate, every coach, every fan” and more. The veteran closed his message by thanking his “extraordinary wife,” who recently gave birth to their first child, a boy named Damien II.

In five years in the NFL, Harris appeared in 44 games and made 34 starts. He recorded 472 carries for 2,188 yards and 21 touchdowns, along with 42 receptions for 297 yards.

Damien Harris Missed the Bulk of the 2023 NFL Season After Suffering a Scary Neck Injury

Damien Harris

GettyAn ambulance takes former Bills running back Damien Harris off the field at Highmark Stadium on October 15, 2023.

Harris first joined the Bills last March. However, he missed the bulk of the 2023 NFL season after suffering a scary neck injury in Week 6 against the New York Giants.

It was a scary scene as Harris lay motionless on the ground, surrounded by his teammates. An ambulance drove onto the field at Highmark Stadium to rush the 26-year-old to Erie County Medical Center. Harris was thankfully able to give a thumbs-up on his way out. The Bills announced during the third quarter that Harris had movement in all his extremities.

Following his release from the hospital on October 16, Harris posted a message on Instagram, thanking Bills Mafia for all their support. He wrote, “Thankful for all the prayers and well wishes… God is the absolute greatest. Psalms 46:10.”

Harris had a lengthy injury history and was looking for a fresh start in Buffalo. Things “weren’t easy from the beginning,” he told The Buffalo News in July. “My first year, I didn’t play,” Harris said of riding the bench his rookie year in New England.

“My second year, I started out banged up, ended up banged up,” he said. During the 2020 NFL season, Harris missed a slew of games due to a broken finger and an ankle injury.

Despite his setbacks, Bills head coach Sean McDermott was excited to sign Harris from the jump. “I just love the combination of size, some power, and speed,” McDermott said, per CBS Sports.

Bills GM Brandon Beane Said Damien Harris Would Be ‘Healthy’ Entering Free Agency

Harris signed a one-year, $1.7 million contract with the Bills last March. Before his injury, Harris recorded 23 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown along with two receptions for 16 yards.

After Buffalo was eliminated from the playoffs, Harris appeared to hint that he’d be back to play. He posted on Instagram, “Year 5: Still I Rise 🤲🏽 God, I thank you.” Bills general manager said at his end-of-year presser that he thought Harris would be “healthy” for free agency, so his retirement was unexpected.

After seeing his announcement, former Bills running back Nyheim Hines sent Harris a message on X. “Shout out to my boy Dame on his retirement,” Hines posted.”Can’t lie I’m happy and sad at the same time. One of funniest people to be in a locker room with, and I haven’t met a more genuine guy. hell of career 🫶🏽.”

Bills running back Ty Johnson left a comment on Harris’ Instagram post, “It was a pleasure to call you a teammate mi hermano ❤.”