NFL star Michael Bennett is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL -- and admits the COVID pandemic played a key role in his decision.
Don't get it twisted, Bennett's not retiring because of the virus -- but admits the lockdown forced him to think more about his life and his priorities.
And in the end, 34-year-old Bennett -- a Super Bowl champ and 3-time Pro Bowler -- told the New Yorker he wants to focus on his family, social justice and charity work.
"Retiring feels a little like death of self," Bennet said on IG ... "but I’m looking forward to the rebirth -- the opportunity to reimagine my purpose."
The defensive lineman wasn't just a beast on the field -- where he racked up 69.5 career sacks -- but he's been VERY active off of it.
He's already authored the book "Things That Make White People Uncomfortable" (which he's developing into a TV series) -- and co-hosts a podcast with his wife, Pele.
Bennett also works with various charity organizations including Athletes for Impact -- a network for pro athletes looking to give back to the community.
During his NFL career, Bennett made roughly $60 MILLION in contract money playing for the Seahawks Bucs, Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys -- not bad for an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M.
"I would like to thank my wife and children, who have sacrificed so much for me to succeed," Bennett said.
"I’m looking forward to supporting them the same way they have me these past 11 years. I have never been more at peace in my life."