One day after the LA Rams announced the return of Joseph Noteboom on a three-year contract, we’ve gotten the news that was expected for many months: Legendary NFL left tackle Andrew Whitworth is retiring after 16 seasons.
The news comes via the Rams and Whitworth himself, two months past winning his first and only Super Bowl championship.
The epitome of a leader.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 15, 2022
Congratulations on an incredible football career, Andrew Whitworth. pic.twitter.com/iXoWdwuklI
Whitworth spent 11 seasons as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, a fact that may have hurt his Hall of Fame resume somewhat because of how long he had been overlooked by media and fans for the first half of his career. Praised more as “one of the most underrated players in the NFL” during his Bengals career, Whitworth only made one Pro Bowl roster in the first nine seasons of his playing days.
But then Whitworth got recognition as a first-team All-Pro left tackle in 2015 with the Bengals, then again during his first season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. Despite only finishing with four career Pro Bowl nods, Whitworth’s Hall of Fame chances should be better than most comparable offensive linemen for at least one reason:
He has an unprecedented amount of time playing football.
As a four-year starter at LSU, Whitworth set a school record by playing in and starting 52 games in his career. As told by his college bio, he didn’t miss a single practice during his five years with the Tigers. He left college football with the second-most games ever played (one behind the leader) and there’s a very good chance that his 3,500 snaps from scrimmage is an NCAA record, if not close to it.
And that’s only Whitworth’s college career.
The 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, Whitworth was a second round pick in 2006, and a full-time starter on Cincinnati’s offensive line by the fifth game of his rookie season. Whitworth played in 239 of a possible 257 games over his 16-year NFL career and his career managed to span three different decades. As a rookie, he played with center Rich Braham, a player born in 1970. As a 40-year-old winning the Super Bowl, he was teammates with Bobby Brown III, a player born in 2000.
Now Whitworth steps aside for protégé Joseph Noteboom to try his hand at playing left tackle for the Rams next season and beyond. He will never “replace” Whitworth, but playing with Whitworth for four years may be one of the key reasons why the team feels comfortable making this transition.
Not an easy change to accept, even if it’s the one we expected.