3x-Pro Bowler Announces Retirement: ‘Once a Giant, Always a Giant’

Getty Ex-Giants safety Antoine Bethea #41 looks on from the bench in the second half against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium.

After 14 years in the NFL, three Pro Bowl berths and one Super Bowl victory, safety Antoine Bethea has decided to call it quits.

Bethea took to Twitter on Thursday to share a heartfelt announcement with his followers. The 36-year-old Georgia native revealed he will be stepping away from the game that he’s played for 27 years, 14 of which came professionally, stemming across stints with the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, and most recently, the New York Giants.

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Bethea shared his affection for the numerous franchises and higher-ups he’s come across during his prolonged stint in the NFL, including Giants co-owners Johna Mara and Steve Tish.

“Finally, to Mara and Tisch family and the New York Giants, thank you,” Bethea said, before channeling his inner-Eli Manning. “Once a Giant, always a Giant.”

Bethea, who did not play this past season, was a major contributor for Big Blue in 2019. Brought to New York mainly due to his relationship with then-Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher dating back to their Arizona days, the veteran quickly carved out a massive role.

Expected to serve more in a leadership role than a play-in, play-out contributor at the time of his signing, Bethea swiftly put that notion to rest, leading all Giants defenders in defensive snaps. In fact, his absurd 1,132 snaps played in 2019 ranked fourth-most by any defender league-wide.

Bethea started all 16 games in 2019, registering 110 total tackles and one interception. He was also voted defensive captain by his teammates.

After signing with the Giants in 2019, Bethea’s teammates voted him a defensive captain. He started all 16 games that season, recording 110 tackles, six passes defensed and one interception.

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Bethea’s Brillant NFL Career

Despite his high-end usage, the team opted not to pick up his contract option this past offseason. In return, ending his one-year tenure in East Rutherford and ultimately his 14 year run in the NFL.

Over his 209 game career (200 starts), Bethea collected 25 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown to go along with 9.5 sacks and 1,333 total tackles. In fact, the latter number was the highest among active players prior to his retirement, per Pro Football Reference (H/T Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels).

Not too shabby for a sixth-round pick out of Howard University.

Bethea’s stellar play earned him three Pro Bowl bids over his career, two with the Indianapolis Colts (2007, 2009) and one with the San Francisco 49ers (2014). He was also a member of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI winning team that defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17, helping 2021 Hall of Fame finalist Peyton Manning capture his first Lombardi Trophy.

Upon Bethea announcing his retirement, he was quickly showered with love and praise from past teammates and numerous names of notoriety throughout the sports world, such as, but not limited to Pat McAfee, Darius Butler and Torry Holt.

“Told you guys I’m always look’n for a reason to celebrate,” ex-Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne tweeted. “Today it’s the retirement of my road dawg Antoine Bethea. Great Career. Great Teammate. Great Brotha. Learned a ton from you bro. Enjoy the next chapter.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay also chimed in on Twitter. “Antoine, congrats on a great career—and THANK YOU for representing the Colts and the game with integrity and class!” he said.


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