Longtime veteran defensive back Antoine Bethea announced his retirement today. Bethea has a long history in the NFL, and with absolutely nothing else to write about right now, let’s take a deep dive into Bethea’s rich history.
Bethea attended Howard College in Washington DC, and started 31 games in his college career, and by the time he was starting his last year in college, he was a full time starter at safety. Despite this, he was not considered as a huge draft prospect, and fell down to the 6th round. Bethea went as the 207th overall pick to the Indianapolis Colts in 2006.
Despite being drafted in the sixth round, the Colts decided to start Bethea at strong safety in his rookie year. Bethea had a good rookie year, getting 90 tackles, 5 passes defensed, and 1 interception for 38 yards. Bethea’s rookie year was also the only year he would be part of a Super Bowl winning team. Bethea made four tackles in the Super Bowl, which was a victory for the Colts over the Chicago Bears.
In 2007, Bethea entered training camp as a free safety rather than a strong safety, and Bethea would be starting at free safety for the majority of his career. 2007 saw Bethea’s first Pro Bowl nod, Bethea recorded 64 tackles (including 3 tackles for loss), four interceptions for 47 yards, and a whopping 8 passes defensed. It was without a doubt one of Bethea’s best years.
Bethea continued as a free safety for the Indianapolis Colts up until the 2013 season, for the 6 seasons he played at free safety for the Colts Bethea had recorded two pro bowls, 11 interceptions, and 36 passes defensed. Bethea changed back to strong safety in the 2013 season, and had a great year recording 110 tackes, 2 interceptions, and 6 passes defensed. This season was not good enough however, and soon enough Bethea hit the open market for the first time in his career. On March 12, 2014, Bethea signed a four year contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
Bethea’s first season in San Francisco was his best, Bethea landed his third and final Pro Bowl with the Niners, recording 86 tackles, and four picks, one of which was even returned for a touchdown, and 10 passes defensed (a career high). From here, it was downhill for Bethea. Bethea missed most of 2015 with a torn pectoral, and had a weak 2016 season, and in the 2016 offseason Bethea requested his release from the 49ers.
Bethea signed a three year contract with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseasons, and even in the midst of having one of the best seasons in the league in 2017 (a grade of 86.7 by Pro Football Focus), Bethea’s role was mostly inconsequential, and Bethea was released in the 2018 offseason.
Bethea’s last stop was in New York, specifically the Giants. Bethea started every game at the Giants, once again as a free safety. Nonetheless, Bethea’s option was not picked up, and he was allowed to hit free agency in the offseason. Bethea did not get signed by another team, despite remaining on the market for multiple months. Bethea officially announced his retirement earlier today, and despite not making the biggest, most consistent impact, he had a damn good career for someone who was picked in the sixth round.