After 17 years in football, Gene Makowsky announced his retirement from the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday.

The 38-year-old offensive lineman — who recently launched a new career in politics — has spent his entire career with the Regina-based Canadian Football League team.

He's played more games than any other Roughrider.

Makowsky, who was born in Saskatoon, said playing football has always been his passion and not just a job.

But while watching the Grey Cup last fall, he started to realize he may not still be in him to play at that level at age 39.

If the Riders had "totally whiffed" on free agency picks in the last few days, he might have considered staying, he said.

But given the new offensive line signings, that's not an issue, he said.


Gene Makowsky is retiring after 17 years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (CBC)

Riders president Jim Hopson called Makowsky a legend who has represented the team well.

Meanwhile, being out of football won't mean Makowsky will have a lot of spare time on his hands.

Makowsky is a rookie MLA in the Saskatchewan legislature, having won the Regina Dewdney constituency for the governing Saskatchewan Party in the Nov. 7, 2011 election.

MLAs return for the spring session on March 5.