LB Smith hon­ors re­tir­ing Posluszny

Orlando Sentinel - - NBA / NFL - By Ryan O’Hal­lo­ran

JACK­SONVILLE — Paul Posluszny’s team­mate for four years, it took six sec­onds for Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith to be­come emo­tional Mon­day while in­tro­duc­ing the re­tir­ing Posluszny.

Such was the bond be­tween Posluszny and Smith, but the packed meet­ing room at EverBank Field was equally em­blem­atic of the im­pact Posluszny had on the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion dur­ing his seven-sea­son stay on the ros­ter.

“As soon as I met him, I knew I had a guy I could trust and de­pend on,” Smith said as a teary-eyed Posluszny watched from the front row. “I never thought I would meet some­body who didn’t grow up in the strug­gle that I did and love the game as much as I did. He un­der­stood what hard work and per­se­ver­ance meant.”

Look­ing at Posluszny, Smith added: “Just know I’ve never met a bet­ter man than you. I’ve never had a bet­ter team­mate than you.”

Posluszny, 33, an­nounced his re­tire­ment last month, leav­ing the Jaguars as the sec­ond-lead­ing tack­ler in fran­chise his­tory (984). But the team hosted an of­fi­cial cer­e­mony like they have for several former play­ers over the years.

At­tend­ing were Blake Bor­tles, Calais Camp­bell, Myles Jack, Ler­entee McCray, Kee­lan Cole, Cam Robin­son, Jay­don Mick­ens, Shane Wynn and Blair Brown along with Rashean Mathis, Josh Scobee and Austen Lane, coach Doug Mar­rone, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Wash, lineback­ers coach Mark Collins and ex­ec­u­tives Tom Cough­lin and Dave Cald­well.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the play­ers, Posluszny said: “Play­ing here and the rea­son why I love the game so much and why play­ing in the NFL was so im­por­tant to me was to have the op­por­tu­nity to be around you guys. A great fear of mine is I don’t know where to find that kind of bond in the rest of so­ci­ety.”

Posluszny opened his re­marks by rec­og­niz­ing in­di­vid­u­als from the Jaguars’ coach­ing, med­i­cal, equip­ment, video, pub­lic-re­la­tions and tick­et­ing staffs be­fore of­fer­ing in­sight into his de­ci­sion to re­tire.

Even though he made it through the sea­son healthy, Posluszny — his con­tract set to ex­pire — walked off the Gil­lette Sta­dium field on Jan. 21 fol­low­ing the Jaguars’ AFC ti­tle-game loss to New Eng­land know­ing re­tire­ment was an op­tion.

“It wasn’t fi­nal­ized un­til a cou­ple weeks af­ter that, but I knew go­ing into that game, it could pos­si­bly be my last and I knew my time was com­ing,” Posluszny said.

The rea­son: Posluszny was not meet­ing his stan­dard of play.

“I didn’t want to go back on the field and be a step too slow,” Posluszny said. “If I’m out there with Telvin and Myles and they ex­pect me to do some­thing and I miss the play be­cause I held on a year too long, I don’t know how I would look at them. That was un­ac­cept­able to me. Avoid­ing that was the most im­por­tant thing. I would rather leave a year too early than one play too late.”

A month af­ter his of­fi­cial re­tire­ment, it still was, Posluszny said, “The most dif­fi­cult thing I’ve ever had to do when it comes to our pro­fes­sion just be­cause I know I’m go­ing to miss it and be­cause it was an enor­mous part of my life. I know watch­ing is go­ing to be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. I think my men­tal night­mares are com­ing.”

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