One-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet didn’t want to fit a mold.
Marpet, who retired at age 28 in February this offseason, shared how health ultimately led to his decision in an interview with The Guardian’s Melissa Jacobs. While NFL careers are generally short, regular starters such as Marpet, often play into their 30s. Trends aside, Marpet didn’t even go back on his decision when quarterback Tom Brady, 44, unretired on March 13.
“The biggest reason for me was the physical toll: I didn’t want any more of that. There were some things I wanted to accomplish in my career that I had done,” Marpet said per Jacobs.
Marpet accomplished plenty in 101 regular season games for the Bucs in seven seasons from 2015 to 2021. He won a Super Bowl in the 2020 season, became a Pro Bowler in 2021 season, and he blocked for arguably the greatest quarterback ever in Brady.
It came with a price as Marpet suffered a concussion in November 2020, which led to missing three games. He also spoke of “repeated sub-concussive blows” and “sleep apnea and hypertension” as health concerns, Jacobs wrote.
“I was eating as clean as possible for a 300-pounder,” Marpet told Jacobs, “but having all the weight on your body is bad.”
Marpet’s health outweighed all that came with playing in the NFL, including the money. He retired in the middle of a five-year, $54 million contract per Spotrac.
“I loved playing football. But one of my strongest values is health and if I’m really going to live out what’s important to me it doesn’t make sense to keep playing,” Marpet told Jacobs. “There are also the unknowns of the head trauma of the NFL and how that plays out. Plus, your joints, the aches and pains that come with surgeries and all that stuff.”
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Marpet’s Post-Football Plans
Marpet also told Jacobs about his plans for life after football, influenced by the mental health impact upon society from COVID-19 protocols.
“If there’s one takeaway from COVID for me, it’s that people are willing to share their own stories and mental health is starting to see its day a little bit,” Marpet told Jacobs. “That feels really good and mental health is definitely something we should prioritize.”
Marpet plans to work in the mental health field after obtaining a master’s degree, Jacobs wrote. Meanwhile, Marpet volunteers with Tampa area non-profit Metropolitan Ministries, which assists the homeless, Jacobs wrote.
Bucs Filling Marpet Void With Shaq Mason
Tampa Bay wasted little time in replacing Marpet by trading for guard Shaq Mason in March. The Bucs only gave up a fifth-round draft pick in the process.
Mason, 29, played with Brady in New England and won two Super Bowls with him. Mason participated in the Bucs voluntary workouts last week and made a strong impression on offensive line coach Joe Gilbert.
“Shaq’s been awesome so far; really smart football player,” Gilbert told the media on May 10. “I really feel great and I know Goody [Harold Goodwin] does, too, about where he is. Really good guy in the room, has picked things up. Really, really sharp so far.”
READ NEXT: Chris Godwin Sends Strong Message to Bucs After Schedule Release