02/18/2014 12:11 EST | Updated 04/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards retires from Winnipeg Blue Bombers

WINNIPEG - He wasn't pushed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and thinks he could still play but, at nearly 35 years of age, veteran CFL all-star receiver Terrence Edwards says his body has been giving him messages that the time is right to retire.

"My body has been starting to tell me that my career has been coming to an end," the soft-spoken Georgia native said Tuesday from his home in Atlanta.

He wanted to dispel any suggestions he was being pushed, after musing earlier this year that he might return for a season or two and said he was keeping another promise, to retire from football in a Bomber uniform.

"It was my decision, it wasn't a decision that was made by the club forcing me to retire. . I just thought it was the best time for me right now to move on from playing professional football."

The Bombers praised him as one of their greats and his numbers back that up. He sits fourth on the all-time team list for receiving yards at 7,200, produced five 1,000-yard-plus seasons and 24 100-yard-plus games, second only to Milt Stegall in that regard among Bombers receivers.

He was a league all-star twice and a divisional all-star three times.

"Terrence will retire today as one of the best receivers in the history of this franchise," said general manager Kyle Walters in a statement.

"He was a leader of the club's offence for many years and players like him simply do not come along every day. He was a special player in our league, and we thank him for everything he has done for our organization."

As a Bomber, he never failed to gain at least 500 receiving yards and pushed his CFL career totals to 508 catches for 7,637 yards and 47 touchdowns by the end of 2013. And that includes last season, when his playing time was limited by injuries.

He also mentioned Tuesday what went on last year in the Bomber locker-room but wouldn't go into any details. It was not a happy place to be, as the team struggled and finished tied for their worst season in the 18-game CFL at 3-15. It cost the team's president, general manager and coach their jobs.

But injuries were certainly a factor in his decision, agreed Edwards.

"Getting freak injuries throughout the whole year last year. And that's one thing I always told myself, that if I had a major injury I'd retire and I did have a major injury last year."

He had off-season surgery to repair an injured foot that was the most serious problem he faced in 2013, although he also missed a couple of games due to an injured shoulder. Also nagging at him, he confessed, is the fact that none were contact injuries.

He says he wants to be able to run around with his two young sons without having to take pain killers.

"That was also in my decision-making process."

When Edwards entered the CFL he was known as the younger brother of running back Robert Edwards, a first-round NFL draft pick who played for the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins before moving to the CFL, first with Montreal then with the Toronto Argonauts.

Terrence Edwards also had a very brief try in the NFL in 2003 with the Atlanta Falcons but it was in the CFL that he made his mark. After two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, his debut in a Bomber uniform in 2007 saw him record 1,280 yards and nine touchdowns.

There is no question he will be missed.

"Terrence Edwards has been a consummate professional for the Winnipeg Football Club throughout the past seven years, and I would personally like to thank him for representing our club with class, hard work, and a burning desire to be successful," said Bomber president Wade Miller.

"He may be hanging them up but he will always remain a member of the Blue Bomber family."

Edwards says he has plans for life after football but declined to go into any detail. He also suggested he wouldn't mind coaching at some point. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and will continue to do that.

"But right now I just want to relax, and step away from it for a little while . . . I think I just want to be a fan now and watch the games."