In news that shocked the NFL – particularly fans of the Las Vegas Raiders – linebacker Blake Martinez this week announced his abrupt retirement from professional football at the age of 28, as ESPN.com reports.
Martinez informed the sports world of his decision via an Instagram post on Thursday, just days after notching an impressive 11 tackles in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Surprise retirement announced
In the midst of his seventh NFL season, Martinez provided limited specifics about the reason for his departure but was gracious in describing his experiences over the years.
“I’m announcing my retirement from the game of football!” Martinez wrote. “I had an amazing journey with some incredible franchises, and made lifelong friendships.”
Without much elaboration or detail, Martinez continued, “I have chosen to step away from this career at this time to focus on my family and future passions! I am excited for this new journey and appreciate all the fans and organizations that have supported me throughout the years!”
In response, the Raiders organization posted well wishes to Martinez via Twitter which read, “Good luck on your new journey.”
New direction in the cards
While Martinez’s move may be puzzling to some, given his sizable NFL base salary of $1.035 million, the now-former professional athlete has long had other entrepreneurial irons in the fire that may explain his ability to walk away from the sport.
As ESPN.com reported separately last year, Martinez has been an avid and prolific collector of Pokemon cards since childhood, and that hobby has turned into an extremely lucrative business venture for him in recent years.
Earlier this month, the New York Post revealed that Martinez sold a rare “Illustrator Pikachu” card from 1998 for the eye-watering sum of $672,000, in what was reportedly the second-highest price ever fetched for such an item.
ESPN further noted that Martinez has used NFL earnings to expand his collection of valuable Pokemon cards and frequently posts about the game and his memorabilia holdings on social media.
Gotta catch ’em all
Recent reports suggest that Martinez hopes to acquire each and every Pokemon card ever produced, and with recent sales from his collection having generated upwards of $2 million in profit for the former footballer, it is easy to see why.
While there are those who may struggle to understand why anyone would want to prematurely abandon the fame and fortune of professional sports, those who have personally experienced the heavy physical and mental toll of years in the NFL will have no difficulty understanding the appeal of the lucrative alternative Martinez has wisely created for himself.