Willie Anderson retires

Street Talk Willie Anderson retires

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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens veteran offensive tackle Willie Anderson retired Wednesday, marking the close of a stellar 13-year career and ushering in the Michael Oher era.

Anderson, 33, was placed on the reserve/retired list, meaning the Ravens still retain his rights if he should change his mind about playing again. However, the four-time Pro Bowl blocker’s decision sounds final.

"Willie’s biggest thing in talking to him is that this is where is his mind is at, that it’s time to move on," said Terry Bolar, Anderson’s agent, in a telephone interview with the 24×7. "I think he’s accomplished so much as one of the best right tackles in the game. You see the Brett Favre thing on television every day, how it’s dragging out, and that’s not Willie.

"He might not have gotten the notoriety, but he had the respect around the league. If he had been on a winning team all those years, he might have made it to as many Pro Bowls as Jonathan Ogden. He’s a class individual. I just wish everyone was like Willie, as a person and from a playing perspective."

Anderson was sidelined for the Ravens’ full-team mandatory minicamp due to knee problems, according to Ravens coach John Harbaugh. He battled a chronic foot injury last season to start 11 games last season after being signed to a three-year, $11 million contract after being cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in August.

His retirement creates an immediate $2.94 million in savings against the salary cap.

The Ravens pursued free agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace, but he signed with the Chicago Bears. Baltimore traded up in the draft to select Oher, the top candidate to replace Anderson with Adam Terry recovering from knee surgery.

A former Auburn star drafted by the Bengals with the 10th overall pick in 1996, Anderson had contemplated retirement during the entire offseason.

"Willie wants to be 100 percent instead of trying to play at 80 percent or 90 percent," Bolar said. "He wants to be the best. Every man has to make a decision in life, and Willie has made his. You wake up one day and you just know.

"Willie has been playing in the NFL since he was 20 years old. He made a lot of money. Football has been good to him. He wants to go out on top. It’s an emotional thing when you leave, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do."

Drafted in the first round out of Ole Miss with the 23rd overall pick, Oher lined up with the first-team offense at right tackle during his first NFL practice and impressed the coaching staff. He also played left tackle on Sunday when starting left tackle Jared Gaither was out with migraines.

"I am very comfortable at right tackle," Oher said Sunday. "I learned that you have to have your technique down in the NFL. I wasn’t nervous to be here. I was excited to be in the NFL. Being out there, playing against the ones, now I know over the summer what I’ve got to work on and the things I’ve got to do to start."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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