Patrick Mannelly retiring from NFL after 16 years


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL journey is over for former Duke Blue Devil long snapper Patrick Mannelly. The 16-year veteran Chicago Bear announced his retirement on Friday.

“I wanted to go all-in with my rehab, working out, everything,” Mannelly said Friday during a conference call with reporters. “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.’

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Mannelly has a “pretty old hip”, according to his doctor.

“It’s something that has bothered me for six to eight years of my career,” Mannelly said. “And then last year it got really bad. But I’m hoping the surgery can put off a bigger surgery later on in life. I want to be able to live a normal life, not limp around and ache every time I walk.”

Knowing that Mannelly was in a significant amount of pain over the last several years, no one is blaming him for leaving the game.

“So it’s been an awesome 16 years, and I’m fortunate to be able to walk away,” Mannelly said. “People always say that, but I am. The body is just done. It’s time to move on to other things in life and look forward to the next chapter.”

The 39-year-old has played in 245 games and in 2,282 plays without a mishandled snap. Only two other long snappers in the NFL have appeared in more games. Trey Junkin appeared in 281 and David Binn made snaps in 256 games. His game appearances top the Bears franchise. Rounding out the top three are Olin Kreutz and Steve McMichael who are tied on the teams all-time appearance list with 191 games.

“He’s the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about.”-George McCaskey

“It’s difficult to talk about Patrick as a player in the past tense,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. “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.”

Mannelly served as a captain of the Chicago squad for the past six seasons and has been a part of the Chicago Bears franchise since the day he was drafted in 1998. He has been a part of four division championships (2001, 2005, 2006 and 2010) as well as the 2006 NFC Title.

He is credited for helping the Bears set NFL records for the most consecutive punts without a block (920) and games without a blocked punt (180).

Thanks to Mannelly’s retirement, the Bears are in need of a new go-to long snapper for the first time in 17 years. Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel are the two men competing for the position.

“Trying to fill those shoes… those guys can’t even think about that,” said Chicago kicker Robbie Gould. “It’s not that it is not possible; it’s something they shouldn’t be worried about… [But] I’m definitely comfortable with both of them.”

Before Mannelly made his mark on the NFL, Mannelly challenged the minds at Duke. Mannelly’s hip injury reared its ugly head back in those days as well. He missed the majority of the 1996 season.

“It’s kind of surprising, You’ve got all these great minds who have been around medicine and they lean back in the chair and say, ‘I don’t know what it is,’” said Mannelly back in 1997.

Mannelly missed all of preseason practice that year, but made his return just in time to start against the opener of the 1996 season. His return was short lived. After just a quarter and a half, the pain reemerged and he had to come off the field.

“I couldn’t do anything,” Mannelly said back in 1997. “Some days I’d wake up and it would be OK. Then 20 minutes later I’d be walking and it would lock up and start hurting me. It would last anywhere from five minutes to the rest of the day. It was so frustrating because it would come and go.”

After Mannelly went home over Thanksgiving break in 1996, the pain “mysteriously subsided”.

After his senior season, Mannelly was ready to take his chances for a career in the NFL. His NFL Scouting Report said:

"A strong-side offensive tackle in college, Mannelly also has the versatility to play both guard and center and is generally considered by scouts to be the best deep snapper in the draft. Although he is not as big as scouts would like, he is a fundamentally sound player and is considered to have the frame to get bigger and stronger. The downside is he has played only two full seasons on the offensive line. He also had surgery on his right shoulder in ’96, though he has shown no ill effects. Teams are always on the lookout for players with good deep-snapping skills and his potential as an OL swingman is a big plus."

Looking back, despite only playing two full seasons, Mannelly sure had a great career. Of the 241 players selected in the 1998 draft, Mannelly was the only player who was still active with the team which drafted him. Other notable players who were drafted in 1998 are Peyton Manning and Randy Moss.

“Sad to see a legend leave the game,” Gould said. “I’m really happy for him. Not many people can do what he did with one organization for as long as he did it.”