Three months after the Kansas City Chiefs released him, linebacker Tamba Hali said Wednesday he plans to retire from the NFL after 12 seasons.
“I won’t lie, I mean, at times I want to play, at times I don’t want to play,” Hali said on SirusXM NFL radio. “...But I don’t want to lie to myself. I think the time has come.
“...I gave it my best, my all, and that’s what came back, and I have to accept it that way.”
Hali, 34, missed 11 games last season while battling a knee injury, after entering the year with four contests missed in his first 11 campaigns. He finished the 2017 season with just 99 defensive snaps played and no sacks, and Kansas City released him in March to save $7.7 million against the cap.
Since the Chiefs took him in the first round in 2006, Hali has collected 89.5 sacks, putting him in a tie for 45th on the all-time list (since sacks became an official statistic in 1983) and one or two seasons away from possibly reaching 100. But he indicated his long-term health is a bigger priority than reaching milestones.
“I have four kids. I want to be able to run around with them, even challenge them in some sports they would play,” he said. “I would love to get to 100 sacks, but the reality is the game I have to play is going to be longer than 12, 13, 14, 15 years, hopefully.”
Hali, who has maintained a side career as a rap artist and producer, intends to put more efforts into that work, but he also hopes to remain connected to the only NFL team he played for. He alluded to a potential desire to be a coaching specialist, something recently retired DeMarcus Ware has done with the Denver Broncos this year.
“Right now, I’m thinking I just need to continue to work out and do my music,” Hali said. “I don’t want to focus too much on football. I don’t see myself getting back into football. I see myself being involved with the Chiefs somehow, maybe as a specialist, being able to teach the guys.”
Assuming his career is indeed over, Hali finished with five Pro Bowl appearances (2011-15) and collected 588 tackles to go with his 89.5 sacks and 32 forced fumbles in 177 games (157 starts).
—Field Level Media