Ben Watson has done a little bit of everything in his 15 seasons in the NFL.

He's won a Super Bowl.

He's caught passes from both Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

He's baptized teammates in the training pool at the Saints' practice facility.

He's fought for causes dealing with social justice.

He's a husband with five kids and a set of twins on the way.

He's written a book about race relations and another on fatherhood.

The book on his NFL career, though, is now in its final chapter

The Saints tight end confirmed Thursday he's retiring at the end of the season. He made the announcement to the media shortly after an eight-minute video was released by NFL Films about Watson and his family.

"It's something you always think about throughout your career," Watson said. "I knew coming into this year that it probably would be the last year."

Watson, who turned 38 on Dec. 18, entered the league in 2004 as a first-round draft choice of the New England Patriots.

He came to the Saints in 2013 and spent three seasons in New Orleans. He returned to the Saints this season, where he has caught 33 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns in helping the Saints earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. That No. 1 seed guarantees Watson at least two more games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the Saints host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in the regular-season finale and then host a playoff game on Jan. 12 or 13.

Watson isn't sure of what's next after the season ends.

"That's the exciting part about it, also the scary part of it for all of us when we go through this sort of transition," Watson said. "You just don't know what doors are going to open and what doors are going to close. I would have never thought I would be (back) here (in New Orleans). God saw fit for me to play another year and be a part of this community and this team."

Watson would like nothing more than to end his career the same way he started it: with a Super Bowl ring. He was on New England's Super Bowl team as a rookie when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX. But he says the time felt right for him to call it quits.


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"You kind of know," Watson said. "You hope you get to exit on your own terms. You hope you get to exit with a great win. It's been great to be a part of this team and have this sort of winning at this point in my career. But the injuries add up. The body struggles more and more and it becomes evident that it's time. It's always a very hard thing. My mentality has always been to perform to the best of my ability and fight through different things and setbacks. But with my wife and kids, we have definitely decided this is the last one."

Watson has caught 528 passes for 5,856 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career. He caught Brees' 500th career touchdown pass in October against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens happen to be one of five teams Watson has suited up for. He spent his first six years with New England, then went to Cleveland before coming to New Orleans. Then he went to Baltimore before  returning to the Saints this year.

"Being selected a captain of the team was probably the highlight of my career," Watson said about his first stint with the Saints. "Getting to wear that 'C' (on my jersey) here in the city."

But Watson doesn't want to be remembered just for the passes he caught or the guy he was in the locker room. He also wants to be remembered for who he is away from the field.

For the two-time finalist for the NFL's Man of the Year Award, the numbers on his Twitter bio are just as important to him as the ones he produced on the field.

"Eldest of 6. Father of 5. Athlete of 4. Servant of 3. Son of 2. Husband of 1."

"I want my legacy to be somebody who loved his wife and somebody who loved his kids and tried to lead his family," Watson said. "And encouraged other guys that they have what it takes to be the men that they’re called to be."

But he didn't stop there. 

"I hope my legacy is that I tried to make every place better that I went to and that I grew as a player and as an advocate and as a citizen as my time went on. I want people to be drawn and to look at the Lord when I do certain things."

Watson will put on his No. 82 black and gold jersey at least two more times, although he's hoping to wear it four more.

Then he'll move on to whatever is next.

"I do know that whenever there seems to be an unknown, God continues to open a door that we may not have expected," Watson said. "While I know this long chapter is coming to a close, I'm excited for what's going to happen although I don't know what that's going to be."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.