ASHBURN — Washington Commanders tight end Antonio Gandy-Golden informed the team that he is retiring from the NFL to further pursue his education, coach Ron Rivera said Thursday.
Gandy-Golden, a 2020 fourth-round selection out of Liberty, steps away from the league prior to his third season. The 24-year-old spent his first two years trying to carve out a role on the Commanders, struggling to get playing time. He appeared in just 10 games across two seasons as he had an injury-filled rookie year and floated between the practice squad and active roster last year.
But Gandy-Golden’s abrupt retirement caught Rivera by surprise. Just months earlier, Gandy-Golden committed to switching from wide receiver to tight end. It was a transition, Rivera said, that was going well.
“He was making some pretty good strides,” Rivera said. “During OTAs and minicamp, he was showing his ability. We felt this was a guy who could have been a matchup problem for some people. So a little surprised. But I love who he is as a young man and I want to wish him all the best as he goes back and starts the rest of his life.”
Gandy-Golden was a productive player in college, recording more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons before declaring for the draft. He helped Liberty reach its first FBS bowl game.
Rivera suggested that Gandy-Golden lost his passion to play football as a reason for the decision.
“That’s what it sounded like in our conversation, that he just didn’t feel it,” Rivera said. “He was talking about going back to school and finishing his education and seeing what else is out there for him.
“He’s a heck of a young man and I truly do wish him nothing but the best.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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