Paul Posluszny was one of the biggest stories of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ improbable playoff run in 2017. A 12-year veteran who had never been to the postseason, the former second-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills finally had a chance to do something he had never done before.
When the media met with Posluszny in the Jaguars’ locker room, he was all business. Yes, he was playing against some of his former teammates from New York. Yes, it was a big deal to him that one of his friends, Kyle Williams, was also playing in his first playoffs game. But when one reporter asked him if he would feel bad about beating his former team, the man with the square jaw and super hero looks replied with a definitive, “No.”
For the past seven seasons, Posluszny has given everything he has had on the field and in the locker room to these Jacksonville Jaguars. When he announced on Tuesday he was walking away from the game, it was on his own terms. His presence will be missed. His leadership will not be replaced.
In classic style, Posluszny thanked the coaches, teams he played for and everyone who has impacted his life on and off the playing field. The one-time Pro Bowl performer and heart and soul of the team’s defense was here in Jacksonville through six losing seasons before the Jacksonville Jaguars once again made the playoffs. His connection to both Telvin Smith and Myles Jack made them better players this season, with Smith being named as a second-team All-Pro.
“Playing for Mr. [Jaguars Owner Shad] Khan, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville has been a tremendous honor,” he said in the letter. “During my seven years as a Jaguars player, I’ve always pursued success and winning football games, while preparing and training with the highest standards of competition, passion and perseverance.
“It has been an honor to represent my family, my teammates and the people of Jacksonville.”
Posluszny was set to become a free agent on Wednesday and would have drawn interest from other teams looking for a veteran to help shore up their linebacking unit. Last season, Posluszny said he wanted to remain with the Jacksonville Jaguars and had hoped a deal could be worked out. It is not known if the team tried to re-sign him in the offseason.
“We talked about last week, so I kind of had a heads up about it,” Smith said Tuesday morning, “but even when he told me … it’s still kind of unsettling in a sense. It’s unreal.”
“Some people sleep on it, but I’m telling you: he really taught me how to be a pro, how to be an NFL leader,” Smith said. “There are different levels. You’re dealing with a group of grown men, so it’s tough to deal with everybody. He taught me a lot in that aspect – how to come to work and go to work and give it everything you’ve got.
Smith and Jack are two of the best young linebackers in the game today.
“It’s definitely a tough day,” Jack said. “I feel like I still have more stuff to learn from him.”
Jacksonville Jaguars’ team owner Shad Khan released a statement on Wednesday regarding Posluszny’s retirement, thanking him for the years he has given not only to this team, but the NFL and the city of Jacksonville.
“Paul has been a constant for me since my arrival in 2011. For much of that time, we didn’t have the record or produce the results we wanted. But, whenever I’d see Paul at practice or after a game, I was looking at the ultimate football player, and I knew as long as he continued to wear a Jacksonville uniform, we’d eventually get it right. And, we did. I am so happy Paul was able to experience the playoffs before his retirement and I thank him for leading us there. Most of all, I believe everyone should thank Paul for a career representing everything to love about the NFL and the game of football. Paul competed hard and relentlessly, but always represented his community with honor and class, as we saw during his years here with the Jaguars. I read Paul’s retirement statement today and find it to be one of the best expressions ever of the powerful bond our league, teams, players and fans share, and it will serve me as a reminder of how fortunate we are in Jacksonville that Paul is retiring a Jaguar. My best to Paul, his wife Elizabeth and their family on what we should all consider a day of inspiration and respect for a great Jacksonville Jaguar and even better man.”
As a side note, my last day covering the Jacksonville Jaguars for another website was also the last day the team roamed the locker room at EverBank Field. As the players shuffled out with trash bags thrown over their shoulders, I walked out the front gate with Paul Posluszny.
We talked about everything that wasn’t about football. Paul was a true professional and was one of my “go to” interviews. He is the epitome of a true sportsman and how he helped me in my first season of covering the Jaguars was much appreciated. When we were ready to leave the parking lot, he shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and thanked me for everything I had done.
I don’t admit to hero worship, but I felt like a kid at that moment, 13 years his senior. Of all the players I got to know this past season, I knew I would miss him the most.
Thank you, Paul. You are what pro football is all about. You will be missed in the locker room and on the field. God bless you in your future endeavors.