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Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch Retires: ‘I Thank God Every Day’

Photo from Leighton Vander Esch’s Instagram

Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch Retires: ‘I Thank God Every Day’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is retiring from the NFL and thanked God for the blessing his football career has been.

Vander Esch was the Cowboys’ 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Per Sports Spectrum, “The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder made an instant impact in Dallas, starting 11 of the team’s 16 regular-season games in 2018 while amassing a career-high 140 combined tackles and two interceptions. For his efforts, he was awarded with Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro selections that year.”

Now, six years after joining the organization, he announced his retirement on Instagram.

“Today is a difficult day for me, but it is also a day of reflection and gratitude…My dream of playing for the Dallas Cowboys came to reality on April 26, 2018,” Vander Esch wrote. “That night will forever be a night I’ll never forget. During my six years as a Cowboys player, I’ve always pursued success and winning football games, while preparing and training with the highest standards of competition, passion and perseverance. It has been an honor to represent my family, my teammates and the people of Dallas.”

The linebacker thanked every person—including his wife, parents, teammates and athletic trainers—for supporting his professional football journey.

“I thank God every day for all that He has given me: my family, my friends, my teammates, and being on this stage to impact people’s lives in a positive way,” he wrote. “Today, I would like to thank God for the countless blessings he continues to shower over my family and me. You have given me a new healthy baby girl and a wife that follows you.”

“Without trusting in your unwavering love and guidance, I know I wouldn’t have made it this far,” Vander Esch concluded. “You have blessed me with the ability to become a Dallas Cowboy and for allowing me the privilege of a 6-year professional football career. I strive to let you work through me in this next chapter to continue to impact people’s lives and to be a light in this world.”

Per NBC DFW, Vander Esch is leaving the NFL for medical reasons.

“Vander Esch was released with a failed physical designation Friday after missing 12 games with a neck injury in 2023. The injury was the fourth since 2019 involving the 28-year-old’s neck and was considered career-threatening,” the outlet reported.

“I realize that I am no longer able to adhere to the unwavering standard of excellence that professional football demands. I say this with a heavy heart: I am medically retiring from the NFL,” Vander Esch said.


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