Jermaine Kearse, a wide receiver who spent eight years in the NFL, officially announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Kearse, a Washington native who spent six years of his career with his hometown Seattle Seahawks, posted his farewell to the NFL on Instagram.
An undrafted free agent, Kearse’s career began with Seattle in 2012. Over six seasons and 69 regular-season games, he caught 153 passes for 2,109 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his second season, he helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, a 43-8 blowout against the Denver Broncos. He played in 12 playoff games for the Seahawks, making 31 catches for 493 yards and six touchdowns.
Kearse was traded to the New York Jets in 2017 and spent two seasons with them. He signed with the Detroit Lions and planned to play in 2019, but broke his leg in the first preseason game and hasn’t been back since. The Jets didn’t get a mention in his retirement post, but that’s understandable: Kearse spent most of his career with the Seahawks and won a Super Bowl with them.
Kearse’s almost-famous Super Bowl catch
Kearse won Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seahawks, but he had a nearly iconic moment just one year later in Super Bowl XLIX. While playing the New England Patriots, Kearse had a mind-blowing catch with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter. He managed to catch a ball that was tipped by Malcolm Butler, reeling it in after falling to the ground and keeping it off the grass.
So why isn’t that incredible catch played over and over every year? What happened just a few snaps later instantly erased it from everyone’s memory: the infamous call on the 1-yard line. Just three feet away from a late-game victory, the Seahawks inexplicably called a pass play that was intercepted. They lost 28-24 and Kearse’s incredible catch became a footnote to one of the most head-scratching calls in Super Bowl history.
Kearse, who said he would have scored if he’d caught the ball facing the end zone instead of the sideline, told the New York Times in 2018 that he can’t really describe how he caught it.
“How did I catch it? It’s like — honestly, I don’t know,” said Kearse, repeating a question he has been asked hundreds of times in the last three years. “I mean, it’s not like a normal catch. I remember seeing the ball bounce around and I just tried to grab it.”
After catching the ball, he just walked away toward his teammates. No fanfare. No celebrating. No fist pumping. But he knows how incredible that catch was, and what could have been if things had gone differently.
“If we would have won, I think it probably would have been the best Super Bowl catch ever,” Kearse told the New York Times. “But we lost.”
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