Anquan Boldin did not wake up Sunday morning and decide to retire.
The now former Buffalo Bills' receiver said Monday in an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio that it was something that he has been wrestling with for a couple of years.
"It wasn't a decision that I made all of the sudden," Boldin told hosts Vic Carucci and Ross Tucker. "It was something that I had been dealing with for a couple years. I always felt like football would be my passion, football would get me past a lot of things. When I stepped up to the podium, what I said was honestly true. But just seeing things that transpired over the last week or so, I mean, I think for me, there's something bigger than football at this point.
"It's kind of shocking for me to say that because football is something that I've dedicated my life to. I can remember as a kid wanting to get to the NFL and then wanting to be a professional football player. I dedicated my life to that and I never thought anything would take the place of that passion, but for me it has."
Boldin clarified that he was referring to the tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., and not anything that happened with the Bills, who just a few days after signing Boldin traded No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams.
"For me, I didn't come to Buffalo just to play with Sammy Watkins," Boldin said. "I feel like we still had enough on the offensive side of the ball, as well as the team overall, to get the job done. So that's definitely not what I was referring to."
Boldin's one and only appearance with the Bills came in a 20-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. He caught just one pass for 5 yards, part of a larger poor performance by the starting offense. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor went just 8 of 18 for 53 yards and was intercepted twice, leading for some on social media to call for rookie Nathan Peterman to get a chance at the starting job. Boldin, however, disputed that the ugly effort had anything to do with his decision.
"Not in the least bit. I think Tyrod is a fine quarterback and I think he'll be just great. I have all the confidence in the world in Tyrod," he said. "I've played in this league for 14 years. I don't think you base how a season is going to go based off of one preaseason game. There's a lot of things that go into what happens in the preseason. No. 1, you don't game plan in the preaseson. So for me to put some thought into, saying 'this is not what I signed up for,' would be absurd."
Instead, the racial strife so painfully on display in Charlottesville made him realize he needed to help in any way he could.
"I'm uncomfortable with how divided we are as a country," he said. "Is it something new to us? No. Is it something that we're just starting to experience? No. But to see just how divided we are, I'm uncomfortable with that. Do I expect everybody to feel the same way that I do? Of course not. Different people have different passions about different things. Humanitarian work is something that I've been working on for years. Advocating for equality, criminal justice reform, all of those things are something that I've been working on for years, so this is not just a fly by night decision for me."
Boldin had a cousin who was killed by a Florida police officer during a roadside stop. He has spoken to two senators who sponsored a bill on police reform. He has testified before Congress.
"It's something that I've been dealing with for years, and it's something that I'm willing to dedicated my life for," he said. "Do I think I can solve all the problems that we have in this country? Of course not. But I think I do have a duty to stand up and make my voice heard and be a voice for those that don't have a voice."
Bolding initially visited the Bills on July 24, but didn't sign with the team until Aug. 7.
"Me signing when I did had nothing to do with anything other than trying to make sure that my family was ok, make sure that my family was on board with what was going on," he said. "That's the one thing that I've always wanted to do – to make sure that my family and I were in agreement with everything that I do and that I've done. So that didn't come into play. When I signed with the Bills, like I told coach McDermott, I was all in. That was my mindset. I was going to Buffalo to help this team win a championship. Nothing more, nothing less."
Boldin also said Monday he won't consider signing with a contending team later this year.
"Do I feel like I can still play? Of course. I feel like I can play more than six weeks or 10 weeks, I feel like I can play an entire season, so that isn't a question for me," he said. "My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs my passion for football at this point, so I'm not coming back to play for a contender or do anything else. I'm done with the game of football, and I appreciate all the opportunities that I've been afforded because of football, but at this point I'm done."
Arriving at that decision was difficult, Boldin said, because he did make a commitment to the Bills, who were counting on him to play a large role in 2017.
"I feel like any time you join on with a team, at least for me, you feel a certain obligation, or you feel indebted to that organization, to those players, those coaches," he said. "So walking away isn't an easy thing. Because as a football player, the one thing that I dind't want to do was let my teammates down. I've always prepared myself to the fullest to make sure that I would never let that happen.
"Especially when you've got guys you know or who were looking forward to working with you, or looking forward to depending on you, guys like Tyrod, guys like Shady, those are guys that I've known even before I got to the Bills and were looking forward to sharing a football field with them, so that's not an easy thing."
Boldin said he broke the news to Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott by explaining "it was just me letting them know that my time has come. There's something that I'm passionate about. There's something else that I feel led to do."
Boldin said the GM and coach were disappointed.
"I wouldn't expect them to be anything less," he said. "But as a man, they respect it. They wished me nothing but the best, and I appreciate that."