Titans' Brian Orakpo retires from NFL

Erik Bacharach
Nashville Tennessean

Brian Orakpo's body was talking to him again. This time he finally listened.

In front of reporters and teammates in the auditorium at Saint Thomas Sports Park, Orakpo on Monday announced his retirement from the NFL, a day after the Titans' season-ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

"It’s kind of bittersweet, but we all got to go at sometime," the Titans outside linebacker said, "and I just believe this is my time."

The decision came down to one factor.

"This was definitely a decision solely made for just walking away from the game health-wise," said Orakpo, 32. "I think I played enough football, and as you get older, we kind of, the perception is we can keep going and going and going, but your body starts talking to you. And this is the first time I actually sat down and listened.

Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo announced his retirement from the NFL Monday.

"I thought this was the appropriate time to go off on a winning note. Obviously it’s unfortunate we didn’t make the playoffs and definitely disheartened about that, but I thought we did some great things with leadership from Coach (Mike) Vrabel, (general manager) Jon Robinson just completely changing the whole culture.

That's what he's most proud of.

"When you think of the Tennessee Titans before, it was an easy 'W' for opponents to come in here before the Titans would play and it would just be considered a win," the 10-year veteran said. "But I think we all collectively helped change the culture and everything around it by bringing in the right type of guys, with great leadership, with my teammates that are back there as well helped change this whole perception of the Tennessee Titans to truly become a true powerhouse around the NFL. That’s what I’m most proud of. Take away all of the individual accolades. I think I’m most proud from that aspect."

Orakpo, who was in the final season of a four-year, $31 million contract, was drafted in the first round, 13th overall, by Washington in 2009 out of Texas. He spent six seasons with Washington before joining the Titans in 2015.

Outside linebacker becomes a position to keep an eye on during the offseason, though the Titans saw encouraging growth from a couple of their younger linebackers this season.

"I love the fact that we’ve got some young guys that are going to come and continue to carry the torch," Orakpo said. "(Outside linebacker Harold) Landry and (outside linebacker Sharif) Finch and (inside linebacker Rashaan Evans) and (inside linebacker Jayon Brown) that we kind of help showed them a way, how to be a constant professional and play at an elite level. I’m really most proud of that as well."

Orakpo, who co-owns a Gigi's Cupcakes store in Bee Cave, Texas, along with fellow former Titan Michael Griffin, tried to dispel some speculation about his future.

"I don't want it to be the perception where I'm doing it because I want to be a full-time baker," he said.

The Houston native played in 132 games in his pro career, accumulating 66 sacks and making the Pro Bowl four times. He had 28 tackles this season before an elbow/triceps injury forced him to miss the final four games of the year.

"I wouldn’t say (the injury) impacted (his decision)," said Orakpo, who added he believed he'd be ready to play if the Titans made the playoffs. "But like I said, my body's just literally right next to me just talking to me."

Does he have any plans to stay in the game in some capacity, either as a coach or broadcaster?

Orakpo smiled: "Hell no."

Rexrode:Mike Vrabel's Titans debut was a disappointment with upside

More:Season-ending loss to Colts was Titans' highest TV rating since 2011