Bears waiting on snapper Patrick Mannelly to decide futureContinue reading.
Long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the longest tenured Bears player ever, retiring after 16 years
Given the reassurance that he was welcomed to return to compete for the Bears, Patrick Mannelly spent the offseason listening to his body, curious whether it would be ready for another season after a Bears record 16.
The answer was a resounding no.
“My body tapped me on the back and said, ‘That it, bud — you’re done,’” the long snapper said.
And so, Friday, Mannelly, the longest-tenured player in the NFL last season and in Bears history, announced his retirement.
Mannelly played 245 games over 16 seasons, both Bears records. He had offseason hip surgery and rehabilitated before making a decision.
At issue was his hip, which bothered him for the last half-dozen years and required offseason surgery. His knee, elbow and shoulders ached, too.
“Being older, it’s tough to get going every day,” he said. “I feel 39 years old.”
The answer came during a two-week stint in April rehabbing his hip in San Diego. His family was back in Chicago, so he had time to think.
“It was almost like a weight came off my shoulders,” he said.
Mannelly is welcomed back to the Bears whenever he pleases, but joked he didn’t know what he was going to do on Sundays any more.
“I won’t be staring out my window before the game to see how bad the wind’s blowing at Soldier Field,” he said.
He leaves the Bears a legend.
“Although I have deep respect for Pat’s decision, I’m saddened by it because we are going to lose an extremely high-level leader who had an impact on our team,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a release.
“Not only from his excellent performance on the field over a very long, sustained and historical amount of time, but in all areas of our team. It starts with his leadership in the locker room and him reaching out to other players who need help, to all the work he has done in the community, and the way he carried the Chicago Bears mantle. Any time he was in the public and represented the Chicago Bears, he did it at the highest level possible. We are losing a great person and a great player, one who will always remain a Bear in our hearts.”
The Bears prepared for life without him, signing former Canadian Football Leaguer Chad Rempel and Houston grad Brandon Hartson, who handed the snapping duties during rookie minicamp, organized team activities and mandatory mini-camp. Mannelly said he was reassured by kicker Robbie Gould that the two could handle the duties, “which makes me more comfortable with my decision.”
“And that’s part of it, too,” he said. “I don’t wanna let Robbie down or the team down if they can’t be left with somebody that can get the ball back to them like it needs to be done.”
Mannelly, who turned 39 during the offseason, was drafted from Duke in the sixth round in 1998.
His 245 games played are tied for 43rd-most in NFL history. He played in all 16 games 12 times.
Chairman George McCaskey said the family “will miss having him in uniform.”
“It’s difficult to talk about Patrick as a player in the past tense,” he said in a release. “He played more seasons than any other Bear. He played in more games than any other Bear. And every season, every game, he was a pro’s pro. He was a captain, someone his teammates looked up to and sought guidance, direction and inspiration, and he provided it.
“Our family is very grateful for all he has done. Not just for the way he’s played on the field, but the way he has carried himself off the field. He’s the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about.”