Rams' Andrew Whitworth announces retirement after 16 years in NFL, Super Bowl championship

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After 16 seasons in the NFL, including 11 with Cincinnati and five with the Los Angeles Rams, veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth is calling time on his football career, he announced Tuesday.

Whitworth is retiring after arguably the most fulfilling season of his career. The veteran standout became the oldest player in NFL history to start a game as left tackle at 40 years old, he was named the 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year and became a first-time Super Bowl champion.

Whitworth had previously told reporters he would take several weeks to weigh his options following the Rams' win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56, and as expected, he made his final decision a day before the start of the new league year on March 16.

He discussed his retirement, and reflected on his career and relationship with his teammates, at a press conference just hours after it was announced.

"I think winning is important, I think culture is important. But I think the most important thing that I would hope (that the) guys remember me for would be that they believe in themselves and that I believe in them and that nothing, absolutely nothing, is not attainable if they chase it and they want it and they believe in it enough," he said, audibly emotional.

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Retirement wasn't an easy decision for "Big Whit." After winning your first Super Bowl, there's always the allure of winning a second. That's something the greatest hockey player of all time talked to the offensive tackle about.

"I'll never forget after we won the game, 'The Great One' Wayne Gretzky called me, cause I live out here near him in Sherwood (California)," Whitworth explained to Sports Illustrated. "He was like, 'Hey Whit, there's only one thing better than winning one, and that's winning two.' And I said, 'You know what, I can't argue with you.' It's gonna be tough. One way or another it's gonna be a tough decision."

Whitworth won three Louisiana Class 5A State Championships with West Monroe High School in 1997, 1998, and 2000 before graduating in 2001. In 2003, Whitworth won a BCS national title while playing for LSU in a Sugar Bowl win over OU.

His 52 career college starts from 2002-2005 rank second in NCAA Division I history behind Oklahoma's Derrick Strait, who logged 53 career starts from 2000-2003.

Whitworth joined the NFL as part of the 2006 NFL Draft, being selected in the second round, 55th overall by the Bengals. He signed with the Rams as a free agent in March 2017.

This season, Whitworth allowed five sacks, two quarterback hits and 16 pressures in 926 snaps. His pass-blocking grade of 90.7 (via Pro Football Focus) was his highest since the 2016 season, his final year with the Bengals.

Whitworth's retirement opens up a big hole on the offensive line, which the Rams moved to fill quickly by signing Joe Noteboom to a 3-year-deal worth up to $47.5 million. But while Noteboom fills Whitworth's position on the field, it'll be a while before the NFL sees another player come along with the personality, heart and talent of "Big Whit."

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