One of the biggest names for the Carolina Panthers announced his retirement from professional football.
Left Tackle Jordan Gross made a formal announcement Wednesday afternoon.
"It was my decision to leave," Gross said. "The team wanted me to stay, but when they heard I was leaving, they were great about it."
Gross, 33, just ended his eleventh season with the Panthers and has played in 167 games with the team. This is the most starts in franchise history.
"I've played a lot of football here, and I've seen a lot of guys come and a lot of guys go," Gross said in an article on Panthers.com. "Sometimes it ends well for guys, and sometimes it is not the ending they were looking for."
Gross played college ball at Utah with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who was there for Gross' announcement.
"We have grown together," Smith told WBTV. "We have watched our families grow together. We have been there for each other on and off the field."
At times Wednesday, Gross was emotional as he reflected on his career.
"I knew that this was the time for me to step away: happy, healthy and thinking fondly about my experience," he continued.
Gross was drafted by the Panthers during the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft as the 8th overall pick. He has reportedly been debating the move for a little while.
"I didn't want to leave until I felt the team was back in a good position for sustained success," Gross said. "The team is there now. There is good, young leadership, there are talented players, and there are guys that really want to work hard and want to win."
During the 2009 season, Gross was placed on the injured reserve list with a broken right tibia and fibula.
In 2010, Gross won the Ed Block Courage Award for his successful return from the injury that included his second Pro Bowl appearance.
"I know what it takes to play the position of left tackle in the NFL, and I know that I have a standard that I've always kept up with," Gross told Panthers.com senior writer Bryan Strickland . "I know that I've kind of done my job to pass the torch. It's time for somebody else to carry it."