NEW YORK (AP) — Running back Bilal Powell signed a one-day contract with the New York Jets on Tuesday, retiring as a member of the only NFL franchise he played for.
The 33-year-old Powell was a fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville in 2011 and ranks eighth in Jets history with 3,675 yards rushing. His last season was 2019, when he came back a year after suffering a career-threatening neck injury.
Powell was out of the NFL the past two seasons.
“You think about all the moments, the memories,” Powell told the team's website. “You miss certain things about it, right? And to know that this chapter of my life is closure for me and to understand I’m a Jet for life, I don’t think too many guys can say that that came through and played this game.”
Powell was a fan favorite for his versatility on the field and his humble approach off it. He was also well-respected by his coaches and teammates, who praised him for his professionalism and dedication to trying to help the Jets win.
“I had a couple of opportunities to leave, to go play for some Super Bowl-contending and playoff-contending teams,” Powell said. “I remember one year, two of the teams that wanted me in free agency ended up playing each other in the Super Bowl. I just always chose to come back to New York because I always wanted to see the trophy come back here again. It was a thing for me, deep down, when I signed my name on that contract to become a New York Jet, that I wanted to stay a New York Jet, and that was for me personally."
Powell was quiet about his personal life, often preferring to not discuss his troubled past as a teen growing up in Lakeland, Florida. He ran with gangs and nearly died when he was stabbed when he was 16. Powell turned things around and became a star football player in high school before going on to a successful four-year college career at Louisville.
After being drafted by the Jets, he became a key member of the offense as a do-it-all running back capable of breaking a game open. Powell didn't regularly speak with the media during his NFL career, and mostly deflected the attention from himself to his teammates' accomplishments during the rare times he did interviews.
Powell finished with 15 rushing touchdowns and caught 211 passes for 1,600 yards and five scores in 109 games over nine seasons.
NOTES: The Jets picked up the fifth-year option on DL Quinnen Williams’ rookie contract. GM Joe Douglas said during the league meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, last month that the team would make the move with the No. 2 overall pick in 2019. Williams will have a fully guaranteed salary of $11.5 million next season. ... OL Cameron Clark was waived with an injury designation after the 2020 fourth-rounder missed all last season with a spinal cord injury. The move was expected after ESPN.com reported in February that Clark would retire from playing football on advice from his doctors. The 24-year-old Clark injured his neck during training camp last August, when he was taken off the field by ambulance to a hospital. He did not appear in a regular-season game during his brief NFL career.
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