“As the show began, I immediately realized something about my new job: This isn’t easy.”

Darren Woodson shares his gratitude as he steps away from his role as an ESPN analyst

Fourteen years ago, on my first day at ESPN, I sat next to Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth on the set of NFL Live to discuss Jerry Rice’s retirement.

For the previous 12 NFL seasons, I excelled on the field – a craft that came…easy. Now I faced a new challenge – one that gave me an immense level of respect for everyone at ESPN who makes television happen. From camera operators and researchers to show producers, the list goes on and on. These are the talented individuals who put me in a position to be successful the past 14 years. I am even more appreciative of these friends and co-workers today than I was on that first day as a rookie analyst. That’s what makes this decision so difficult.

Beyond my ESPN role, my commercial real estate business in Frisco, Texas has grown in recent years, so much so that I have decided to focus more of my time on this. As I conclude this unforgettable chapter of my life, I thank everyone at ESPN for their friendship and for the knowledge they imparted on me, and for making my experience as an NFL analyst with the company so enjoyable.

Television never came easy. Not on the first day – not on the last day, but it was always so much fun. Looking around and seeing the incredible effort of the ESPN team always pushed me to be the best I could be.

To every person at ESPN who helped me along the way, I thank you.

Darren Woodson on the set of NFL Live. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

"Darren's longevity as an ESPN analyst the past 14 years speaks to his passion for football and how adept he is at sharing his knowledge of the game. Our NFL team will miss him moving forward but we wish him all the best as he focuses on his real estate business back home in Texas. We also look forward to one day celebrating him in Canton when he is recognized for his Hall of Fame playing career."

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