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Josh McCown says final NFL goodbye: ‘Heck of a journey’

After a remarkable NFL journey that spanned 17 years and 10 teams, Josh McCown announced his retirement Monday.

McCown spent the past two seasons with the Jets, where he arrived as a starter during a bleak year and left as the mentor to franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. During his short time with the Jets, he left a huge mark on the franchise with the way he carried himself and his influence inside the locker room.

McCown, who will turn 40 on July 4, announced his retirement in an article on The Players Tribune. McCown talked about his early days with the Cardinals when he expected to be there for his entire career.

“I wanted to be a franchise quarterback. I wanted to bring a Super Bowl to Arizona. I wanted to retire a Cardinal,” McCown wrote.

“So if you would have told me back then that I would go on to play for 10 different NFL teams over the next 17 years, I would have said, ‘Shoot, 17 years? I’ll take it,’ ” McCown wrote.

“ ’But 10 different teams? No way….’

“I guess it just goes to show that you don’t always get to choose your own path. But looking back, I’m proud of how my career has gone. I don’t shy away from the journeyman label. I embrace it, full force.

“Because it’s been one heck of a journey.

“And now, strange as it feels to say, after 17 years … that journey is coming to an end.

“Today I’m officially retiring.”

McCown played for the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, Bears Buccaneers, Browns and Jets. He also spent time with the Dolphins and 49ers, but did not play in a game for either. McCown also spent a year in the United Football League playing for the Hartford Colonials.

He finished his NFL career with 17,707 passing yards, completing 60.2 percent of his passes, with 98 passing touchdowns and 82 interceptions. He also ran for 13 touchdowns and even caught three passes in his career.

McCown was one of the most respected players in the Jets locker room. Last year, he embraced the role of mentoring Darnold and the two grew very close. He finished his two years with the Jets with 3,465 yards passing, 19 passing touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He started 13 games in 2017 for the Jets before breaking his left hand. He took over a team that was expected to struggle and led them to five wins before his injury. Last year, he stepped aside gracefully when Darnold emerged in training camp. McCown did start three games for the Jets late in the season when Darnold injured his foot.

The Jets moved on from McCown in March, when it was clear he was considering retirement. Trevor Siemian, Davis Webb and Luke Falk are currently Darnold’s backups.

Many expect McCown to get into coaching, but in the Players Tribune article he indicated that coaching may be at the high school level for now, working with his two sons, who are both quarterbacks. He also mentioned continuing to do some media work.

“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner,” McCown wrote. “I hope I did that. And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

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