The veteran thrower announced his retirement via The Players’ Tribune. He spent 15 seasons in the NFL, the last two with the New York Jets.
It has been an honor to journey through this wonderful game as a player for the past 17 years and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to serve the game in a new capacity. via @PlayersTribune https://t.co/NDU9cH2alH pic.twitter.com/FEXMlf40a9
— Josh McCown (@JoshMcCown12) June 17, 2019
“Strange as it feels to say, after 17 years…(the) journey is coming to an end. Today I’m officially retiring,” McCown wrote. “At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that. And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”
ESPN later reported he would join the network as an analyst. He is set to make his television debut in the Wednesday edition of NFL Live.
McCown, 39, spent 15 seasons in the NFL, the last two with the Jets. He entered the league as a third-round pick (81st overall) of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2002 draft. Over 99 games, including 76 starts, he threw for 17,707 yards and 98 touchdowns. That includes 3,465 yards and 19 scores earned over his final two seasons with the Jets.
As a 17-year veteran, including 15 seasons of regular season action, McCown built a reputation as a steady journeyman quarterback. He wound up spending time with ten NFL squads and one more with the Hartford Colonials of the defunct United Football League. Even his college career featured movement, as he transferred to Sam Houston State after three seasons at Southern Methodist.
McCown does leave behind a lasting legacy with the Jets. His first season went down as one of the more prolific seasons for a Jets thrower in recent history. His 94.5 passer rating was good for the fourth-highest mark in team history among qualified throwers. He would help guide a young Jets squad to respectable results in a year that some saw the Jets going winless.
His most memorable Jets game was perhaps an unexpected December 2017 win over Kansas City. McCown was responsible for 331 passing yards and three touchdowns, including two on the ground. The last was a one-yard plunge near the two-minute mark of the second half that gave the Jets the lead for good in a 38-31 victory.
2018’s first-round pick Sam Darnold took over starting duties a year later. But McCown was nonetheless brought in on a free agent deal to serve as a mentor to the USC product. Darnold constantly referenced how McCown’s tutelage assisted him in his rookie season. McCown would go on to start three late fall games after Darnold sustained an injury.
“I really do just think it was just watching Josh,” Darnold last December. “Just the way he went about studying the plays that are in the game plan, it’s literally everything—walk through, practice, how he treated everything. I think it was just awesome to be able to learn and watch him. That’s the reason for me playing a little bit better these last couple games.”
McCown’s most notable moments elsewhere came in Chicago in 2013. Taking over for an injured Jay Cutler, McCown helped keep the Bears’ playoff push alive with stellar performances. He threw for 13 touchdown passes and one interception over eight games (five starts) and became the first Chicago passer to throw for 300 yards in three straight games. Notably, he tallied 348 passing yards and five total touchdowns in a nationally televised win over the Dallas Cowboys to earn NFC Player of the Week honors.
Prior to what became his final game, McCown discussed the end of his NFL journey in a discussion with ESNY.
“(My family) has been very supportive of me. My life’s been incredible in this whole ride,” he said. “More than anything, just where their ages are and where they’re at, it’s just understanding that you can’t (get) this time back, when they’re in high school, obviously, with the dynamic that we have, especially with my boys playing ball.”
“Where they’re down in North Carolina and I’m up here working. Those are a lot of things that we’ll talk through. But obviously, I understand where their support is, always. They’ve been great with me.”