Poz Shows How To Retire
by Sam Kouvaris
Posted April 18, 2018
When you think "football player" a certain image comes to mind. It's an image that cartoonists have portrayed for years: chiseled jaw, broad chested and slim waist, a football player has tremendous athletic skill. He's also tough, willing to play hurt, plays through pain and loves to run and hit.
When you think "great teammate" a certain loyalty comes to mind, a teacher, somebody willing to sacrifice and a player who makes an impact.
Too often the thought process described above is followed by the "dumb jock" assumption. And while all of the positives you could think of a professional athlete possesses apply to Paul Posluszny, he's the exact opposite of any stereotype you might have of football players.
On his way to the stadium, Posluszny's wife asked him if he was going to cry. "I'm not going to cry" he told his wife. "I don't cry in front of people." And he was right. Despite being the "toughest thing I've ever done" he handled the situation like any other. With professionalism and grace.
At his formal retirement announcement and celebration on Monday, "Poz," as he's affectionately known by his teammates and everybody else, was eloquent, straightforward and honest. Just like he was as a player.
"I didn't want to go on the field and be a step too slow or miss a play because I held on a year too long". Paul said on knowing when to step away. "I couldn't look Telvin Smith or Myles Jack in the eye if I missed a play because I was a step slow."
There was money for Posluszny to make still as a professional football player. A five-time defensive captain, Poz would still be on the field if he was interested in the money or fame, either as a part-time defensive player or on special teams. But that's not him. He'd rather step away a year early than a year late.
"When I'm done I'm done," he explained. Paul said he's going to give graduate school a try for a year but after that wouldn't be surprised if he has the itch to get back into the game. "I wouldn't not be interested". Poz said on possibly coaching.
In an honest assessment that shows an understanding of what the game is about, Posluszny was a prophetic in what being away from the game will be like.
"It's the little things I'll miss the most. At my locker, in the team room sitting next to the different personalities, all with one goal," he said. "My great fear is where to find that in the rest of society."
The answer to that is you don't find it. You create it. Those kinds of relationships and that atmosphere was just that way because a guy like Paul Posluszny was in the room. Anybody who's ever left the game, on their own terms or involuntarily, looks for that kind of intensity in their life to sharpen their focus. Nothing can replace the physical nature of playing a sport, especially football. But the challenges you can create using the lessons learned in competition are fueled by your experiences on the field. The relationships and the intensity of a common goal and trust are up to you to create.
"I dedicate this coming season to you," Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said as he introduced Poz. "I love you and you'll always have a place as my brother. I never thought I'd meet a guy who didn't grow up in the struggle I did, love the game the way I do."
That sentiment was echoed by current and past teammates who attended today's celebration.
And I'll add my personal endorsement: Of the tens of thousands of athletes I've covered in my 40 year career, he's one of two I would have introduced to my daughters. And if you know me, that's saying a lot.
Congratulations Paul, great things are ahead.