On Black Monday, Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Brian Orakpo joined the exodus of fired head coaches across the NFL by announcing his retirement after 10 years at the professional level:
Brian Orakpo has announced his retirement.— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 31, 2018
Thank you, @rak98! #TitanUp pic.twitter.com/Jywp1lW20L
”This is definitely a decision solely made for just walking away from the game health-wise,” Orakpo said. “I think I played enough football. As you get older, the perception is we can keep going and going and going. But your body starts talking to you and this is the first time I actually sat down and listened.”
Former Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo has announced that he’s retiring from the NFL. pic.twitter.com/xBqwO7tcj1— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) December 31, 2018
The Houston Lamar product arrived at Texas in 2004 as a skinny defensive end ranked as a Rivals four-star prospect who turned down offers from Colorado, Houston, Missouri, Stanford, and Texas A&M.
In 2005, Orakpo served as a key reserve on the national title-winning team, earning Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honors before continuing his positive trajectory with six tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a sophomore. A knee injury early in the season slowed Orakpo in 2007, but he was still able to produce nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in nine games.
And then it all truly came together — by Orakpo’s senior season, he had gained 50 pounds of muscle at Texas, bench pressed 515 pounds, and squatted 600 pounds. After recording 42 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and 30 pressures, Orakpo was recognized as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, the nation’s top defensive end, the nation’s top defensive lineman, and the nation’s top defensive player.
Unsurprisingly, Orakpo’s combination of strength, size, athleticism, and production resulted in the Washington Redskins selecting him with the No. 13 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
He made an instant impact, starting the first game of his career and earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie thanks to 50 tackles and 11 sacks. The next two seasons, Orakpo combined for 17.5 sacks before tearing his pectoral muscle early in 2012. Ten sacks followed the next season, but Orakpo once again tore his pectoral muscle to end his 2014 season.
During the following offseason, Orakpo signed a four-year, $31-million contract with the Titans and produced 24.5 sacks in his first three seasons before his production cratered in 2018 — despite starting 13 games, Orakpo only produced 1.5 sacks.
As for his next steps, Orakpo will focus on his family and also co-owns a Gig’s Cupcakes in Austin with former Texas and Titans teammate Michael Griffin.