Wed, 04 Aug 2021

Calais Campbell Is Contemplating Retirement After This Year

Baltimore Ravens
16 Jun 2021, 05:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

Calais Campbell will turn 35 years old on Sept. 1, around two weeks before the Ravens open the regular season Sept. 13 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Entering his 14th NFL season, Campbell has not decided how much longer he wants to play. But coming off his sixth Pro Bowl season, the veteran defensive end has reached the point where he's taking his career year by year.

"That's something I'm still figuring out, I guess," the 34-year-old Campbell said. "I kind of take it one year at a time. I know that I've got this year in me for sure. I'm going to give what I have this year, and then we'll reevaluate once the season ends.

"It's definitely something you think about. I used to say when I was younger I wanted to play 15 (years). I didn't realize how hard 15 was going to be. This is 14 for me. I know I've got this in me for sure. I'd still like to play 15. Hopefully I've got another one. We'll see."

On the practice field Tuesday for mandatory minicamp after missing voluntary OTAs, Campbell's focus is on playing well and helping the Ravens win a championship. He came close to winning a Lombardi Trophy as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals, but they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Campbell hasn't reached football's biggest stage since, and winning a Super Bowl is the biggest item missing from his career to-do list.

Widely respected as a player and person as the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Campbell quickly became a team leader with 28 tackles, four sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 12 games after being traded last year by the Jacksonville Jaguars to Baltimore.

He started the season strong, winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a dominant Week 6 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he logged three sacks. But there were also challenges for Campbell, who suffered a calf injury against the Indianapolis Colts and missed two games, followed by a bout with COVID-19 that sidelined him Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After Campbell returned in Week 13, the side effects of the coronavirus lingered with him for weeks. Campbell believes he has fully recovered, but the illness is something he won't forget.

"Sometimes, I feel like it kind of comes and goes, I guess I really can't be sure until we get to the thick of things," Campbell said. "I've been really good for the last couple of months. I haven't had any real issues. It lingered for a while. I still don't wish that on anybody, it's such a tough thing to go through. You don't feel like yourself, even when you're past the symptoms that everybody has. I definitely feel a lot better. I feel like I'm ready to go out there and dominate, have some fun. I hope I stay that way."

Campbell said he has been vaccinated, but he believes that's a deeply personal decision.

"To each their own," Campbell said. "Each person has to do their own research and figure out what's best for them. As a team, we're working toward something great here. I feel like everybody supports each other."

Led by Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe and talented second-year lineman Justin Madubuike, the Ravens have a formidable defensive front that aspires to dominate in 2021. With a year in Baltimore under his belt, and able to train this offseason without the restrictions of a pandemic, Campbell believes he can have a stellar campaign.

Right now, Campbell is thinking about winning a championship, whether it's his last season or not.

"There's only one happy team at the end of the year," Campbell said. "Last year, we feel like we had a good chance but we didn't get it done. I think the mentality this year is just try to make the best of this one. We know what we have as a team as far as talent, as far as scheme. We know that we can be very good, quite special, really.

"It's a new year, 17 games, this year is going to be a little different than years past. Somebody has to set the standard for that. Why not us?"

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