When the Los Angeles Rams advanced to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, many speculated a win might prompt Rams veterans like Andrew Whitworth to hang it up, retiring on the highest note possible.
Whitworth’s retirement especially seemed likely given that he was the oldest starting offensive lineman in the NFL and was finally experiencing the playoff success that had eluded him for so long on the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Rams lost to the Patriots, 13-3, and Whitworth will return in the fall to a Rams line that lost two other starters to free agency during the 2019 offseason. Whitworth anchored a major turnaround on the Rams’ offensive line over the past two seasons, protecting Jared Goff long enough for him to unlock Sean McVay’s innovative offensive playbook.
However, the Super Bowl loss did not affect Whitworth’s decision to keep playing as much as it may seem. In fact, he told Ryan Kartje of the L.A. Daily News that he would have only been more eager to return if the Rams had won:
“It was one of those things where I felt like win or lose, it seemed like it was in people’s heads that if I won, that was it,” Andrew said. “Where in my mind, I’m thinking, if we win, that would only inspire me to go play another one. I really had a desire to finish my contract and finish what I signed up to do.”
Whitworth will once be counted on to produce once again while offensive line coach Aaron Kroemer looks to integrate several young players into major roles in the trenches. He is in the final year of a three-year contract he signed with the Rams in 2017.
Whitworth has become a leader in the team’s clubhouse and became the oldest offensive lineman to make a Pro Bowl in 2017.
He also became a mentor to Goff and a key part of the Rams’ community outreach efforts in the wake of the devastating Ventura County fires that burned hundreds of homes and forced the evacuations of many more, including the one owned by Whitworth and his family.
In what may be the final year of his career, Whitworth will once again look to help a Rams franchise whose massive turnaround coincided with his signing. The Rams will enter the 2019 season as a favorite to make the playoffs for the third straight year and win their first Super Bowl since 2000–and their first ever in Los Angeles.