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Tahir Whitehead retires from NFL as a Detroit Lion

The Lions’ 2012 draft pick announced on Friday that he has retired from the NFL and wanted to do so as a Detroit Lion.

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

NFL linebacker Tahir Whitehead announced his retirement from the league on Friday afternoon at the Detroit Lions facility in Allen Park. Whitehead enjoyed 10 seasons in the NFL, playing for four different teams: the Raiders, Panthers, Cardinals, and, of course, the Lions.

Whitehead hasn’t played in Detroit since 2017, yet he wanted to announce his retirement in Detroit. The Lions were the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft and eventually developed him into a starter. Whitehead was basically a full-time starter from 2014 to 2019, tallying at least 100 tackles in four of those six seasons.

Even though the remaining four years of his career were spent with those other teams, it was important for Whitehead to return to where his career started.

“I probably preferred to never leave, if you ask me,” Whitehead said. “Like just the city itself, the city I’ve always held it near and dear to my heart. So I wanted to play my whole career here, and so for me, that’s why it was important to come back and retire a Lion.”

In Detroit, Whitehead played a total of six years, missing just three games over that span and starting 54. As a Lion, he tallied 399 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 18 passes defended, and four interceptions. Stepping in for an injured Stephen Tulloch, he was a big part of the Lions’ vaunted 2014 defense that ranked third in points allowed and first in run defense. That year, the Lions went 11-5 and nearly won their first playoff game in 20 years.

“I think that was a focal point in my career,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead’s retirement comes five years after his former teammate Tulloch retired at the same podium in an emotional press conference.