A soft-spoken Edmonton Eskimos linebacker who gave CFL quarterbacks nightmares during his 14-year career decided to hang up his cleats yesterday.

“You know it’s time to retire when you have players (that you played with) inducted into the Football Hall of Fame,” said 37-year-old Shannon Garrett during his official retirement announcement.

“You also know when it’s time to retire when your teammates keep on calling you ‘pops.’”

Garrett, who hails from Bay St. Louis, Miss., notched 45 defensive tackles, one special teams tackle, four knockdowns, one interception, one quarterback sack and a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown in 18 games in the 2008 season for the Esks. The longtime linebacker was part of two Grey Cup winning teams in 2003 and 2005, and he mustered seven defensive tackles and a knockdown during the Esks’ playoff appearance in 2008.

“By my standards, 2008 was an average season for me and I never want to be an average player — that’s not the type of athlete I am,” said Garrett who said he struggled to make the team in the last three years during training camp. Garrett started his CFL career in Winnipeg back in 1995 and later played for Saskatchewan in 1998. After an unsuccessful tryout with the New Orleans Saints, Garrett signed as a free agent with the green and gold in 2000.

The linebacker also created an impact off the field as he made 200 appearances for community programs.

“When you are talking about warriors, he may not seem like one, but he was always an ultimate warrior,” said Esks GM Danny Maciocia. “He was a true leader.”

Garrett ruled out coaching as a career option when asked by Metro and is currently working at Canadian Western Bank.