A radiant sunset beamed down on Matt Forte’s NFL career on Wednesday, as he saddled up his horse and rode off toward retirement. The 32-year-old running back is closing the book on playing football and embarking on a new journey in life.
Chicago Bears fans are sure to dust off that book from time to time and reminisce on the memories left behind by one of the franchise’s most versatile tailbacks. Forte might have finished his last two seasons in the league with the New York Jets, but he will be remembered for his days in a Bears jersey.
He was eating up scrimmage yards as a running back and a receiver when Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson were still in high school. During his 2014 season with the Bears, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught 102 passes for 808 receiving yards. Years like that were seemingly another day at the office for the 2008 second-round draft pick.
No, there isn’t a place in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame being prepared for him after two Pro Bowl appearances and five 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that he still had a sensational career. Even toward the end with the Jets, he nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 2016 at age 31. He has never run for less than 813 yards in a season as a full-time starter.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve been blessed to play professionally a game that I’ve loved since I was 6 years old. But, after much prayer and reflection, I’ve decided to retire from the NFL,” Forte said in a statement on Sports Spectrum. “…My experience as a Jet was truly first rate. To all of my many coaches and teachers over the years, thank you for your dedication and commitment to my growth and success as a person and player.”
Forte endeared himself to sports fans in Chicago and New York as the consummate professional on and off the field. He also served as a viable leader and mentor to many of the younger players to model after.
It was a quiet conclusion to a fast and loud beginning in the NFL. Forte received All-Rookie honors his first year in the league long before falling on the depth chart on a young and depleted Jets team.
Yet, memories of that dual running back threat that torched defenses through the air and on the ground remain in his wake.