Patrick Mannelly is finally finished. After 16 seasons and 245 games as a Chicago Bear, the 39-year-old long snapper formally announced his retirement Friday morning. The decision, Mannelly admitted, required deep thought and reflection. But ultimately, now felt like the right time to walk away.
For what it’s worth, on his first official day of retirement, Mannelly had himself a tee time – 1:12 p.m. at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, alongside Wes Short Jr., Scott Dunlap and Gary Chesnoff. That’s part of the Encompass Championship, a Champions Tour pro-am event that runs through Sunday.
But before heading to the tee, Mannelly held a conference call with the Chicago media to discuss his retirement. Here are the highlights of what he had to say …
Opening statement: “First off, I just wanted to thank the Bears organization for an incredible 16 years. Being a Chicago Bear this long, the McCaskeys are like family. I’d like to thank Mrs. McCaskey and her family for all they’ve done for me. It’s been an honor to be a Bear and represent them throughout my career. And were it not for the late Mark Hatley and his staff, I never would have been a Bear. So I’d like to thank them and Coach (Dave) Wannstedt and his staff for bringing me into the NFL. To be fortunate enough to play 16 years, I could be here all day thanking everyone who has helped me during my career. But I will be spending the next few weeks reaching out to each and every one of them and thanking them all. I do have one final thing: I’d like to thank all my teammates over the years for making the last 16 years of my life so unforgettable.”
On how much wrestling was involved with his decision and what ultimately swayed him:
“It’s been a long six months, five months or whatever it’s been. I went through last year. And you never know if it’s going to be your last year. I was going to become a free agent and did not know if I was going to have a chance to have a contract offer. What (general manager) Phil (Emery) offered me over the offseason was to kind of let me make my decision, which I was honored and floored when he offered that after the year. And that’s another thing. I’d like to thank Phil for that. It’s never easy to retire. But that made this decision a lot easier – to go through that (decision-making process) knowing that I had an opportunity for a job. But as I’ve said before, I wanted to go all-in with my rehab, working out, everything. And I said I’d listen to my body. And my body’s tapping me on the back and saying, ‘That’s it, bud. I think you’re done.’ So it’s been an awesome 16 years. And I’m fortunate to be able to walk away. People always say that. But I am. The body is just done. Time to move on to other things in life and look forward to the next chapter.”
On whether he’d consider going into coaching: “I’ll never rule that one out. That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. I love football more than anything in the world. But right now, I just want to step back and enjoy some time by myself and we’ll see in the future. I’ve talked to some people about it. That’s something I’ve looked into. So we’ll see.”
On whether his injured hip will allow him to live a normal life going forward: “I hope so. The doctor talked – I have a pretty old hip, I guess you’d call it. I’m still having some issues with it now. It’s a lot better. I can function in daily life better. I just started picking up a golf club two weeks ago. So that’s a big deal in my life. But it is, it’s something that’s just there. It’s something that has bothered me for 6-8 years of my career. And then last year it got really bad. But I’m hoping the surgery can put off a bigger surgery later on in life. That was another reason I was rehabbing and am still rehabbing as hard as I can. I want to be able to live a normal life. Not limp around and ache every time I walk. I’m trying my best to make sure that, after 16 years, no I’m not going to feel perfect, I’m not going to feel great, but I’m wanting to feel pretty darn good."
On what two or three games come to memory fastest when he thinks back over a 245-game career: "Of course I go back to the 2006 NFC Championship game in that season. That was pretty special, just celebrating with your fans at your home stadium. That’s pretty awesome and knowing you get to go live a dream of playing a Super Bowl. It’s great. Another game I’ll never forget is the first game in my career against Jacksonville, I remember looking between my legs before the first snap of the game. And (punter) Todd Sauerbrun’s sitting back there. And I actually told myself to take a little mental snapshot. That’s something I’ll never forget. And really all the games at Soldier Field, running out and hearing the crowd. Those have been amazing. But those two games are probably the two that stick out the most."
On whether the decision was harder than he thought it would be: "It was. It really was. But it’s been made easy by the fact that I truly wanted to be honest with myself and how I felt. Like I said, last year was difficult just going through with numerous things. Being older, it’s tough to get going every day. And like I said, I was going to let the body tell me. And the body’s telling me it’s done. Not only my hip is bothering me. My left knee from my ACL (tear a few years back) was starting to give me issues. Things just started aching. Elbows, shoulders, when I got into lifting heavy and working as hard as I could, I feel 39 years old."
On how he envisions his Sundays in the fall now that he won't be playing: “The one thing I did think is I won’t be staring out my window before the game to see how bad the wind’s blowing at Soldier Field. So I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I don’t know. I’ll obviously watch the games. Those are some of my best friends I’ll be pulling for. But I don’t know where. I’ll be in Chicago, but I don’t know what I’ll be doing. And the stress level on Sunday morning will be a lot less.”
On whether he was at peace when he finalized his decision to retire: “It was a peace. It was almost like a weight came off my shoulders. It has been a lot of hard work. (There are) a lot of days that you don’t question why you’re doing it, but it just gets harder to do it. I was out in San Diego for a while, and I had two weeks by myself when my family wasn’t there, and that was a great time for me to really reflect and almost spend two weeks by myself and think about things. But it definitely was a weight off my shoulders when I decided because it has been a lot of hard work, a lot of maintenance, a lot of extra time trying to get through these aches and pains. The body, it’s just time to be done and not deal with that anymore."
On if he had talked to either of the two newest Bears long snappers, Brandon Hartson or Chad Rempel: "I knew Brandon from before but I have not met Chad. What I hear from Robbie (Gould) is they’re doing great and he believes they’re NFL-ready. Which makes me more comfortable with my decision. And that’s part of it, too. 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. I know it can be a difficult job to do from college to the pros. So I just want to make sure Robbie and the punters are good."