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Boldin, who turns 37 in October but had a productive season with the Detroit Lions last year, indicated in a statement to Trotter that the current environment in the country played a role in his decision and poignantly noted, “My life’s purpose is bigger than football.”
“Football in its purest form is what we all strive for as a nation,” Boldin wrote. “People from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal. The core values taught in football are some of the most important you can learn in life. To always be there for the guy next to you and not let your fellow man down. You do whatever it takes to make sure your brother is OK.
“Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work. At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority. My life’s purpose is bigger than football.”
He had signed a one-year deal with Buffalo on Aug. 7.
The NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2015 (he was given the award during Super Bowl 50 weekend), Boldin established his eponymous foundation in 2004, and through the organization, Boldin focuses on expanding educational and life opportunities for underprivileged children. The Q81 Foundation has raised millions and holds is the annual Q Fest, a summer educational enrichment program, back to school and Thanksgiving events, and Boldin and his wife, Dionne, award scholarships each year to graduating students in his native Palm Beach County in Florida and the San Francisco Bay area.
Boldin has also made humanitarian missions to Africa with Oxfam America, and in recent months was part of a group of NFL players that traveled to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers about improving relations between police departments and communities, particularly minority communities. One of Boldin’s cousins, Corey Jones, was killed by a plainclothes police officer on the side of a South Florida highway in 2015 while waiting for a tow truck. The officer, Nouman Raja, will go on trial for manslaughter and attempted murder in April.
The 54th overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals out of Florida State in 2003, Boldin set an NFL rookie record with 101 receptions that year, for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns That season earned him the first of his three Pro Bowl nods as well as the league’s offensive rookie of the year award.
Boldin played with Arizona through 2009, a key part of the franchise’s run to the Super Bowl in 2008. In 2010, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens and was stellar in the 2012 postseason, when the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. Boldin had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns in four postseason games.
Boldin is the fastest player in NFL history to record 300 receptions, hitting that mark in 47 games; he also was fasted to 400 receptions (67 games) and 500 receptions (80 games). He finishes his career with 1,076 catches, good for ninth all-time, for 13,779 yards, 14th all-time, and 82 touchdowns.