Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Redskins' venerable left tackle Chris Samuels did the expected on the same day that 10 members of the team were cut (for salary cap reasons) before the start of the NFL free agency period.
Samuels stood at a podium before family, friends, teammates, coaches, front office executives, and members of the press and announced his heavily anticipated retirement after 10 seasons with the team.
I'm sure somewhere in a hidden closet and away from the cameras, Daniel Snyder, Mike Shanahan, and Joe Bugel are a few of many crying right now.
Although I wish I could take full responsibility of Samuels calling it quits because of my October article , I know that the retirement of No. 60 was really a result of using common sense, walking away from the gridiron in order to preserve one's health, and listening to sage medical advice.
Suffering from stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal cord) since an infant, the pain only got worse in his prep through pro days, with the worst of it occurring in an October road game against Carolina when Samuels got caught in a brief helmet-to-helmet collision with a Panther defender.
It's the right move for Samuels who won't have to test his strength or worry about protecting his neck and head any longer, leaving the game as a relatively healthy young man in his thirties.
He now has a chance of breathing a bit more easily, rest-assured to still collect large sums of money without the fear of becoming paralyzed by another errant hit to his spinal cord on a football field.
Conversely, the Redskins are at a loss, needing to look for an established offensive lineman in either the NFL draft next month or through free agency.
That new starting left tackle will have some pretty big shoes to fill. The next big stud who will most likely be assigned to protect the quarterback's blind side will also be required to—no pressure—come close No. 60's stats, including the following:
- A member on six of the top-ten franchise rushing seasons
- At least 70 straight starts, injured or not
- Six times to the Pro Bowl
- Stayed out of trouble his whole career
- Team captain multiple times and important presence in the locker room
- Made it to the NFC playoffs more than once
- Helped team beat arch-rival Dallas in at least four consecutive games
- And, most importantly, nice teeth and a Barry White baritone
(OK, that last feature is total bunk, but the next LT really has to bring his A game for at least a next decade or so.)
Samuels, ever the gracious Southern gentleman that he is, took the time to thank virtually everybody who had made an impact in his playing career, even taking the time to acknowledge the cleaning crew of Redskins Park!
(I'm sure if he were given more time, Samuels would have found a way to give shout outs to President Obama, the Dalai Lama, Yoda, and Cookie Monster, symbols who might have also had a positive effect on him in some possible way.)
As he was wrapping up his valedictory speech, Samuels said, "If I can suck it up and go out there with a bad knee, a hurt neck, I know I can sit behind some TV and watch and drink coffee for a few extra hours."
He continued: "I'm 32 years old. I've got to do something. I can't sit around the house all day."
Reportedly, one of those "somethings" includes accepting a position as one of the Redskins' minority interns, meaning that he'll continue to be a presence (as, technically, a coaching assistant) at the team's OTAs and other practice-oriented activities this spring into summertime.
There will be tons of pressure on owner Daniel Snyder, head coach Shanahan, and general manager Bruce Allen to find the perfect replacement for Samuels.
If Snyder, Shanahan, and Allen decide to go bonkers during this upcoming uncapped season, where they are seen spending more time on wasting draft picks to get free-agent busts instead putting a solid team together to threaten their NFC East rivals, then they'll be crying for reasons that don't even involve an absent Samuels.
This is a bitter pill that sadly all of us in Redskins Nation will have to swallow. We'll definitely be losing one solid, hell of a rock.
Inside of me, though, I am beaming, quite proud that Samuels made a no-brainer of a decision, perhaps realizing that his health and well-being are far more important in sacrificing than being responsible for rescuing (and resuscitating) the Titanic.