Edwards, 40, will race in Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin as he counts down to his final international appearance at Valencia in November.
Seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi echoed the view of the MotoGP paddock when he reflected on Edwards’ announcement at COTA earlier today.
Rossi and Edwards won the Suzuka 8 Hours together riding a Honda.
“I’m very, very sad about the news because Colin is one of my best friends in the paddock and among all the riders,” Rossi said.
“We shared the bike in the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2001 and 2000 and I think this is the best memory that we have together because we enjoy a lot and we won.
“Also we were teammates for a long, long time in a great moment of my career, during great seasons for me with Yamaha. Always we stayed together in the box and tried to work together, but especially we enjoyed it a lot.
“Colin always came to my home town of Tavullia to ride motocross bikes at my track, now at the ranch but also where we trained before.
“I’m sad because he is a great guy, a great rider. We will miss him, but anyway it is a long season and we hope that Colin can remain [in MotoGP] in the future in some other work.”
Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP world champion, recognized the enormous contribution Edwards has made during a glorious American and international carer.
“I started watching Colin because he was the young, hot American. I remember him when he started in the AMA. He took it by storm, he made a huge splash. He was fast immediately on 250s and then Superbike,” Hayden said.
“And we started in MotoGPs together (2003). We were rookies together. Even sometimes now we’re flying back to America and I think, ‘wow this guy’s got a lot of energy’ because he already had a 10-year head start on me in Superbike, putting in a lot of big miles.
“He’s given a lot this sport so I think he can really be proud of his career. It’s clear he’s got a lot to look forward to.
“As a fellow American it’s a shame. There’s fewer and fewer of us around here. I hope soon we can see another wave of young Americans come in and keep carrying the flag.
“I just want to say good luck and take it easy for the rest of the year, make it easy on us.”
MotoGP’s youngest world champion Marc Marquez, 21, remembered that Edwards recognized him when he first came to the grand prix paddock as a fresh-faced 15-year-old.
“I think Colin can be proud of his career. He started in the world championship when I was two years old,” Marquez said.
“When I was 15, and I first came here, he already knew me and that was a big surprise for a young rider. He is a real fan of motorbikes. Congratulations on his career.”Colin Edwards, Grand Prix of The Americas, MotoGP, Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi