Even if we may be past the height of the rivalry, there remains no love lost between fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. And yet, at least for most, there always existed a certain level of respect for the opponent, and there were always those certain players that you secretly wish could have crossed the line to the other side of the field.
Former Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, who just announced his retirement following a 13-year career, would certainly be one of them. An eight-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro (twice first-team), and a Super Bowl champion, he was as good as his accolades indicate, which isn’t always the case.
Yanda continued to play at a high level through the 2019 season, yet again earning both Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognition, and doing so at the age of 35 at the guard position. Despite his age, the Ravens were very much hoping that he would continue to play. So why did he decide against it? He explained the answer during his retirement press conference on Wednesday.
I watched guys as they got older lose a little bit more each year. By the end, they were almost like a liability. In the back of my mind, I never wanted to be like that. I did try to control every single factor that I could to be great at the end of my career. I wanted to be up here, and have these guys wanting me back, rather than being at the other end of it saying, ‘I’m happy you’re retiring’. I wanted to end playing well.
It goes without saying that that was never the case for him. He was consistently viewed not just as a high-performing player but also one of the most crucial presences in the locker room. After all, nobody had been there longer, as least since Terrell Suggs left.
Yanda had already considered retiring after the 2018 season as well. He suffered a significant ankle injury in September of 2017 that ended his season prematurely. He had another injury the year before that he had to play through, even moving from one side to the other to make it easier on his shoulder.
“When I went through those two injuries, I just felt in my mind I was put on notice”, he told reporters. “Going into the 2018 season, I was prepared mentally to retire if I didn’t stay healthy. It was in my mind a good two years. I think a lot of people didn’t know that”.
The game may miss him, but Steelers fans won’t miss seeing him helping the Ravens win games. He just helped block for one of the most productive offenses in NFL history in 2019.