JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Sitting in the front row with his wife and two young daughters, Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny got blind-sided like never before in his NFL career.
A guy known for his meticulous preparation wasn't ready for teammate Telvin Smith's heartwarming speech.
So Posluszny started to cry as soon as Smith paused to collect himself. A few minutes later, both of them had tears rolling down their cheeks.
It was an emotional farewell — for them and just about everyone else in the room.
Posluszny formally and reluctantly retired Monday after 11 seasons in the league, including the last seven in Jacksonville. He finished his career with 1,381 tackles, 41 pass breakups, 16 sacks, 15 interceptions and eight forced fumbles.
He explained his decision in detail during a ceremony inside EverBank Field, saying he started contemplating walking away late last season.
"I don't want to do this," said Posluszny, who enjoyed one winning season during his time in Buffalo and Jacksonville.
"I don't want to retire right now. I want to keep playing. But what was more important for me was I didn't want to go back on the field and be a step too slow or miss a play. If I'm out on the field with Telvin and Myles (Jack) and they expect me to do something and I miss that play because I held on a year too long, I don't know how I look at them.
"That was unacceptable to me. ... I know that's right around the corner, and once it hits, it hits. You don't stop it. Avoiding that was the most important thing.
"It's my time. I love the game too much and I respect it too much to not be able to physically do everything that I've done in years past. And if that's a year too early, maybe I'm going to regret it. But I'd rather be a year too early than one play too late."
The Jaguars played highlights of Posluszny's time in Jacksonville during the celebration. It included interceptions against Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco.
It featured Posluszny playing with a bloodied face from a gash on the bridge of his nose. And it showed him making several plays with a cast on his right hand.
Smith stole the show, though, with his tearful introduction.
"Forever and ever and ever his legacy will live on through what he's done here," Smith said.
"I love him. I appreciate him. ... Just know, I never met a better man than you. I've never had a better teammate than you. I don't think I've ever been able to say someone loved me who I didn't do something for than you. And I promise you — I promise you, I promise you — I won't let you down.
"And I feel like that last game we let you down, so I dedicate this next season to you and I promise you we're going to head down and give everything I got because of you and the legacy you left."
Posluszny announced March 13 that the 2017 season would be his last . He waited until Monday, the day players returned for their voluntary, offseason conditioning program, to make it official.
Coaches, front office personnel and teammates, including a few from back in the day, were on hand for the festivities.
Posluszny thanked most of them and later said he wants to attend graduate school and get a second degree, possibly a Masters of Business Administration or something in the aerospace field.
Whatever he chooses, he hopes it can fill a void created by losing being around his teammates.
"The great fear of mine is I don't know where to find that in the rest of society or what occupation — I'm sure they're out there — where you can be in that type of environment where it doesn't matter where you're from and you can work with Telvin Smith every day or you can work with Myles Jack every day and be in a room together and learn together and grow together," Posluszny said.
"That's the best part of the NFL: Your teammates and the environment that you create in that locker room where you know that ... I'm going to play as hard as I can so that (a teammate) has success so that we win as a group.
"To me, that's priceless. That's the most important thing, and I know that's what I'm going to miss the most, hands down."