By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
The NFL offseason often brings a lot of changes and excitement to teams and their fans. Additions to teams, beloved players or coaches leaving, hold outs, the draft, drama is always present in the offseason. However, when a player retires, the drama seems to subside, and nostalgia takes over.
We all know its coming. No one can play football forever. But when a player has made an impact on the league, it’s hard to imagine them not being on the field anymore. It feels like a loss for fans, but a loss that they understand and respect.
The start of the 2019 NFL year has had a number of notable retirements, and its only March. Here are a handful of newly retired players that will be missed by fans.
Julius Peppers. Defensive God. His name alone put fear in the hearts of offensive coordinators around the league. In his amazing 17 year career which included time playing for the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears, Peppers was a 6 time All Pro, with 9 Pro Bowl nods. It’s straight to Canton for Julius.
— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) December 28, 2018
Ask anyone in Buffalo who the was the heart and soul of their team and I’d guess 99.9% of them would say, Kyle Williams. Announcing his retirement after 13 years for the Bills, Williams is BELOVED in Buffalo, and I don’t say that lightly. 6 time Pro Bowl, 2 time All Pro, I highly doubt anyone on that team will ever be able to wear #95 again. He will be very difficult to replace on the field or in the fans hearts.
Haloti Ngata may have had played for a short time with other teams, but he will forever be remembered for his 9 years in Baltimore. 5 time All Pro, and 5 Pro Bowl selections is only the tip of the iceberg for Ngata. He was a member of the historic defense the Ravens had during their Super Bowl run in 2012. But even a Super Bowl win may not top his fantastic retirement announcement.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2019
There were two centers that retired this year who will both be terribly missed, Max Unger and Ryan Kalil. Unger split his career, playing for the Seattle Seahawks for 6 seasons, and the New Orleans Saints for 4. Three-time Pro Bowl, 1 time All Pro, Super Bowl champion, Unger was a leader in both locker rooms and revered by his teammates and fans.
Kalil played all 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He was a 5 time Pro Bowl selection and 5 time All Pro. Much like Ngata, Kalil was the soul of the Panthers team and teammates have said his legacy will live on after he’s off the field.
And then there’s Gronk.
I always think of Kronk, the character from Emperors New Grove, when Rob Gronkowski‘s name is mentioned, because, well… I mean, right? The resemblance? Hard to ignore. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t greatly respect what Gronkowski has done on the field. At 29 years old he is already a first ballot Hall of Fame player. He was a huge reason for the Patriots success during his 9 years in New England. 5 time Pro Bowl, 3 time Super Bowl champion, Gronkowski is, although I’ve seen lots of debate on Twitter, easily one of the best (if not THE best) tight end the game has seen in a long long long time. Even though he has struggled with injuries, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots without him.
Others that deserved to be mentioned are Brian Orakpo and Jeremy Maclin. All of these players have left a print on the league and won’t soon be forgotten. All of them deserve our praise and our thanks. Mission accomplished, gentlemen.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG