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 gleaning some light on 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, Posluszny still said it was, “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.”
Coming up for Posluszny is potentially graduate school, but don’t be surprised if he's involved with football in the future.
“It’s too early to tell but I wouldn’t be opposed to it,” he said.
Salutes for Posluszny
The Jaguars’ media relations department released several Posluszny-related comments from former coaches and teammates. Here are excerpts:
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone: “[Posluszny] exemplifies everything that it means to be a true professional. He came in every single day with the intention of improving as a football player and aiding in the development of those around him.”
Former Jaguars tailback Maurice Jones-Drew: “[The 2017 season] was special for me watching Paul play with so much passion and joy, and to cap it off, he was able to experience playoff football for the first time in his storied career.”
Jaguars strength and conditioning coordinator Tom Myslinski: “[Posluszny’s] attention to detail and work ethic that sets him apart. He was and will be my example to every athlete that comes in through those weight room doors of how to be a professional athlete. “
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (Posluszny’s teammate at Penn State): “Paul has been the most important influence in my career and the embodiment of hard work, discipline and class. Watching him play, with his incredible talent, relentless motor and unflinching toughness, he inspired me to work harder and to try to play at a higher level. On and off the field, he will forever be the standard I try to live up to."