By Harvey Fialkov/South Florida Sun Sentinel (MCT)
MIAMI – Miami Dolphins nose tackle Jason Ferguson retired Thursday afternoon, ending a 13-year NFL career.
Ferguson, a 35-year-old Nettleton native, was faced with sitting out the first eight games of the upcoming season after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy for the second time. He claimed the positive test was caused by blood pressure medicine.
“I’m no cheater,” he said in May, at the time the positive test was announced.
“You get what you put into this game,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I would like to thank my family, the fans and the organizations that I have been a part of for their continued support throughout my career, it’s been an absolute blessing to play this long.
“I have built a lot of relationships, you develop an extended family playing this game; I would like to thank that extended family, the teammates, the coaches, the support staffs that have all played a part of a great ride.”
Ferguson had a long history with football guru Bill Parcells.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Ferguson was originally drafted out of Georgia in the seventh round when Parcells – now the Dolphins’ vice president of football operations – was running the New York Jets in 1997.
Parcells, a proponent of the 3-4 defense, admired Ferguson’s ability to occupy two offensive linemen and still come up with run-stuffing tackles. Parcells also brought Ferguson with him when he coached the Cowboys and then again when he was put in charge of the Dolphins football operations.
“Jason was a key contributor on three different teams for many years at one of the NFL’s toughest jobs,” Parcells told USA Today. “I am grateful and I will miss him.”
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano had penciled in Randy Starks the starting nose tackle this year.
“I want to wish Jason well in his retirement,” Sparano said. “He had a great career in the league and was professional in everything he did. I appreciate all he did for the Dolphins in his two years in Miami, and his leadership will be missed.”
Ferguson had 23 tackles in nine games last year but finished the season on injured reserve with a torn biceps. In 12 seasons – he missed 2001 with an injury – he played 159 games with 496 tackles (343 solo, 153 assists) with 21.5 sacks.