Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Let me preface this by saying I’ve been a big fan of yours since your days with the Blackshirts at Nebraska. Your intensity, your shoulder-over power rush, your ability to fly inside and cross the face of the guard on a twist, those are things that few could match for a very long time.
But those are figments of the past now. It’s time to retire, Kyle. Deep down I think you realize it yourself. You watch the film. You see the shell of your former self, struggling to get around pedestrian tackles. You see that the burst is gone and you are no longer able to explode through a block. Teams are running right at you and your body just doesn’t have the ability to do much about it any longer. When you line up in a Wide Nine, you no longer have the speed to get to the quarterback or the leverage to hold the edge and offer any defense against the run.
Your arrival in Detroit was a key part of the recent renaissance. Jim Schwartz openly coveted you to bring your toughness, wisdom, and pass rush to a team that didn’t have any of those qualities. Your presence brought instant credibility to the Lions defense. You changed the tone in the locker room with your work ethic, your dedication to breaking down opponents, and your relentless practice habits. In the great 2011 season, you saw the fruits of your labor and man was it sweet! Eight sacks and four forced fumbles is a great season, but just as importantly you attracted attention away from the linemates and capitalized when the attention switched to them. Lions fans will forever remember the dominant front four from that season, and you deserve a great deal of credit for that awesome accomplishment.
But the NFL is a “now” league, and quite frankly, Kyle, your “now” is not pretty. The knee just doesn’t cooperate anymore, and the neck injury in November took away the strength. You’re not a young man anymore, 34 going on 40. Trust me here, as I am 40 myself. You’re at the age where a good night’s sleep and a couple of Naproxen caplets don’t get rid of the aches and pains anymore. Injuries take a more significant toll, and recovering to 100% just isn’t possible anymore.
I speak for all Lions fans when I applaud you for restructuring your deal last summer to help facilitate Calvin Johnson’s extension, among other extravagances. You didn’t have to do that, but you did, and that speaks to your character and dedication to the Lions. But now the Lions need the money and cap space more than they need you on the field. Lots of players with more long-term importance to the team are free agents, and every penny is precious.
No matter if you play or not, you will cost the Lions $5.86M dollars. If you play, it’s an additional $5Mof cap space this year. That’s five million dollars the Lions don’t have. You have already earned more than $50M in your 12-year career. That’s a lot of money for a kid from rural Iowa, and you are smart enough to have taken care of it all if that 3.82 GPA in Lincoln means anything. There is nothing more you have to prove, to yourself or anyone else. You made it. You came, you saw, you kicked its ass.
Don’t make the Lions cut you, which they very well might. Jim Schwartz has shown you indelible loyalty and friendship. Don’t make him have to close the door and tell you it’s over. Walk away on your own terms. Enjoy the golden parachute and retire to enjoy the rest of your life. Your body has taken a tremendous amount of abuse, and another season will only make your later years even more excruciating and awful. If you desire, I’m sure the Lions would bring you on as an assistant coach, a role in which I think you’d thrive. You’ll still be around the fellas, helping the men you’ve battled alongside become better football players.
It’s time, Kyle. Retire to your beautiful wife and growing children who would love more Daddy time.
Every Lions fan
Tags: Kyle Vanden Bosch