K-State great Darren Sproles to retire at end of season

Philadelphia Eagles' Darren Sproles in action during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(WIBW) - A Kansas State legend will call it a career at the end of this NFL season.

Darren Sproles announced he will retire once the Philadelphia Eagles' season is over. Sproles is in his 15th NFL season and wrote about the decision in a piece on the team's website.

"I owe so much to the game of football and I gave it all I had in return," Sproles said. "I gave it everything I had on every play. I rode it until the wheels fell off. That's the way I played and that's the way I practiced. When I re-signed with the Eagles back in July, I knew it was going to be my last season, and now my body is telling me it's time to step away from the game. It's time to call it a career.

"So when the season comes to an end, I'm going to officially retire from the National Football League. But I wanted to announce it today so that we can appreciate the moment together on Sunday."

Sproles has played in just six games this year and 15 games over the past three seasons. He's been on injured reserve in Philadelphia for the past month and said that experience has been "hard."

"But I've had the chance to spend a lot of time with my family and I'm at peace with this decision," Sproles said. "My kids are kind of sad that my career is coming to an end because they told me that they love to see me play. They inspired me. They kept me going. I'm proud that they were able to see me play at a high level because I wanted to show my kids that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, as long as you are willing to work hard for it."

The running back has done a little bit of everything to be a productive playmaker in professional football, working on offense and special teams. Sproles has 19,696 all-purpose yards for his career, which ranks fifth all-time. As a rusher and receiver, he's totaled 8,392 yards and 81 touchdowns. As a kick and punt returner, he has 11,313 yards and nine touchdowns.

It's all impressive considering the doubt that came from his size: He's 5 feet 6 inches tall.

"Looking back on my career, I think about the time I stood on the stage inside the RCA Dome getting measured for coaches and scouts at the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine," Sproles recalled. "When my height and weight were announced, I could hear laughing from the audience. I've always been short, it's not the first time I've been made fun of for it, but I started worrying that I might not get picked because of my size.

"I'm proud that I was able to prove my doubters wrong. They told me that I wouldn't make it past a year in the NFL. Fifteen years later, I'm fifth all time in NFL history in career all-purpose yards. Look at the names who are above me on that list: Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith. To be part of such an outstanding group is an incredible honor. But it also goes to show that no matter what people say about you, you can still achieve great things if you believe in yourself and put in the work."

The three-time Pro Bowler spent five seasons as a San Diego Charger, three as a New Orleans Saint and six as an Eagle. All of his Pro Bowl trips came in Philadelphia, where he became a dynamic punt returner while leading the NFL in punt return yards and touchdowns in back-to-back seasons (2014 and 2015).

"To Eagles fans everywhere, I want to thank you for the way you supported me every single day," Sproles said. "I could feel it. You made my time here special. I remember when I was first traded to the Eagles. It was a shock because it came out of the blue, but it turned into a blessing. I get chills thinking about all of the amazing memories from my time here. Playing at our stadium is like playing in front of your family."

But now, Sproles said it's time to focus on his own family.

"Lastly, to my wife, Michel, you are my rock," Sproles said. "You mean the world to me. You've always had my back. Thank you. Thank you for holding down the fort at home while I was playing or practicing or watching film. You let me focus on football while you took care of everything at home.

"It's now time to return the favor."