Ben Watson announced he is retiring from the NFL

"I entered this league with a duffel bag and a dream."

Ben Watson
Ben Watson during the 2019 preseason. AP Photo/Duane Burleson

Ben Watson, who played with the Patriots in two stints separated by a decade amid a 16-year career, announced his retirement on Monday.

Watson, 39, made the announcement in a note he posted on Twitter.

“I entered this league with a duffel bag and a dream,” Watson wrote. “I exit holding the loving hand of my best friend, my wife of 14 years, and the [seven] tender gifts God has graciously given us to lead and love.”

As a 2004 first-round draft pick by the Patriots, Watson entered the NFL from the University of Georgia with a great level of potential. He recorded a 4.5-second 40-yard dash time at the rookie scouting combine, one of the fastest recorded that year by a tight end. He also scored a 48 on the “wonderlic” test administered to rookies at the combine, tying for the third-highest mark ever recorded.


Watson’s NFL career was hampered by injuries. As a rookie in 2004, he played in New England’s opening game (a victory over the Colts), but missed the rest of the season with a knee injury. He alluded to his many injuries during his retirement announcement.

“As a football player, I did not achieve every goal I set for myself,” Watson noted. “I came up short more times than I would like to count. But I can say, in season and out of season, in wins and losses, after a ruptured Achilles, ruptured disc, torn ACL, concussions, cross-country relocations and several other setbacks common to our sport that I was never outworked and never backed down from each challenge.”

In a 2006 playoff game against the Broncos in Denver, Watson made one of the most memorable plays in Patriots history. Following a Champ Bailey interception of Tom Brady at the goal line, Watson didn’t give up and sprinted the length of the field to tackle Bailey just before he could score a Broncos touchdown.

Watson finishes his career 547 catches for 6,058 yards and 44 touchdowns.


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