Feb. 16, 2016
Let’s get the hard part out of the way first: I am writing to inform you that I have decided to forgo my final season of athletic eligibility at the University of Notre Dame, and I have no interest in pursuing a spot on an NFL roster.
Now I know that for many of you reading this letter, this situation may sound a little crazy. After all, it’s not every day that you hear about a Notre Dame starter, about to enter his final season, stepping away willingly from this most-revered game. There must be something wrong. Actually, everything is great.
I have no problems with the coaching staff, no academic issues, and no violations of team rules that normally come along with a statement like this. My reasons for cutting my playing career short have nothing to do with any negative experiences at Notre Dame; in fact, I would consider my commitment to this exceptional University the best decision I have ever made. Playing football here was a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of doing battle out there on that field with my brothers for anything.
While playing football for Notre Dame has been nothing short of an honor, I have been presented with an incredible opportunity to pursue a career doing something in which I have great interest, and at a great company to boot. The experience of balancing Notre Dame’s academic rigors with my football commitments has given me a great foundation for my next endeavor. I will graduate from Notre Dame this May and start my professional journey this summer in the Washington, D.C. area.
No matter how excited I am about what the future has in store for me, the question that inevitably comes up is: why don’t you just wait until next year? My answer is pretty simple; the excitement I feel about the professional opportunity in front of me has helped me to realize that I’m just ready to be done with football. I’ve been playing this game for many years, and quite honestly my heart is no longer in it. I realize that this may be considered sacrilege to some, but it’s truth. What I do love, and where my heart will always be, is the University of Notre Dame.
Way back even before high school, when my parents and I talked about football it was always in the context of a vehicle that could take me to the places I wanted to go in life. As I got a little older, it became clear to me that Notre Dame was where I wanted to be, so I devoted myself to football and my studies in the hopes of one day attending this great University. As the events unfolded, I ended up with a chance to do something that millions of people can only dream of–to run out of that tunnel wearing a gold helmet. While I wasn’t always thrilled about football growing up, only a crazy person could have resisted excitement at the prospect of playing for Notre Dame.
Because of my love and admiration for this University, I poured everything I had into representing Notre Dame on and off the field, as best I could, for the past three seasons. I even enrolled early to get a head start in case I was needed that first fall. As it were, I played in ten games as a true freshman, and learned quickly how great the demands of elite college athletics could be. Over the next two years, I had some of the best times of my life with a truly special group of guys. I took my work seriously and I made many lifelong friends in the process. Everyone I have spent time with at Notre Dame has been wonderful: from the men I have been honored to call my teammates, to my dorm mates at Marion Burk Knott Hall, to the coaches, training and equipment staff, and all the people who work behind the scenes in administrative and recruiting roles. I sincerely thank you all for being the best part of my days here.
When I was being recruited, one of the things I heard over and over was that it’s the people at Notre Dame that makes it so special. I believed them at the time, but I would never know how true that statement was until I experienced it firsthand. If I had one thing to say about this University, I would say that it’s unique. From my own time here, I can say with great confidence that no other CFP school develops young men academically, athletically, and spiritually the way Notre Dame does. Any player who chooses to come here can rest easy knowing that if they put in the work, they will leave very well prepared for the rest of their lives.
If this sounds like it was a difficult decision for me, you would be right. My time at Notre Dame is something I will always cherish, leaving me with the best of friends and countless memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I owe so much to this University, not only for giving me the chance to play on college football’s biggest stage and preparing me for life beyond the game, but for helping to make me the man I am today. All I ask from you is that you trust me when I say I know that I have made the right decision.
I’d like to thank Coach Kelly, his current and former staff, and my teammates for making this truly the experience of a lifetime. I’d also like to thank my family for its incredible and continued support, as well as the Irish fan base for making my time here truly special. It takes a village, and I sure am thankful for mine.
Steve Elmer `16