|With release, Clifton’s time with Packers comes to end |
|Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 7:00 pm |
|By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
Chad Clifton’s Green Bay Packer playing days are over.
It remains to be seen if his pro football career is completely finished.
Clifton, the 35-year-old Westview High School and University of Tennessee product, was released by the Packers on Monday when Green Bay officials reported he’d failed his team physical.
A 1995 WHS graduate who won a national championship as a Volunteer on the collegiate level and then a Super Bowl title as a member of the Packers following the 2010 season, Clifton had offseason back surgery after playing in just six games in the 2011 season due to first a hamstring ailment and then the back issue.
His mother, Dotsie, told The Press Monday she and her husband and Clifton’s father, Harold, were alerted of the team’s decision just before noon “because he didn’t want us to hear it on the television and be upset.”
“We were on our way out when his wife (Candy) called and we talked briefly. When we got back home, he’d left us a sweet message and told us he was ‘alright.’”
Mrs. Clifton said she was not aware if her son was considering retirement or wanted to continue his NFL career with another team, but hinted she was quietly hoping for the former.
“He has those two boys at home, and they’re four and six, and they need him,” Dotsie said.
“I know he was hoping to get to play one more year (in Green Bay), but with the back surgery and all, and even though I do believe he’s better, it just wasn’t meant to be.”
A 12-year pro football veteran and oldest starting left tackle in the NFL last season, Chad completed the second season of a reported three-year, $20M deal in 2011. He was reportedly scheduled to make $5.25M next season with bonuses of $249,975 (roster bonus) and $250,000 (workout bonus).
The two-time Pro Bowl selection had been listed among the top 100 players in a countdown show on the NFL Network prior to last season when the league recognized its best performers among the 1,600-player fraternity.
He helped pave the way for eight 1,000-yard seasons by Packer running backs during his career and started 160 of the 165 games he played for Green Bay after being a second-round selection out of Tennessee in the 2000 draft. Clifton ranked behind only Pro Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg in games played by a Packer lineman.
Westview head football coach Don Coady, who helped mold Clifton to the 1994 Class 2A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year winner before his playing days at Tennessee and then Green Bay, was philosophical when discussing Clifton’s release Monday and possible future.
“Football ends for everybody some day,” the Charger skipper said. “Chad has gone further, played longer and accomplished more that anybody I’ve ever coached. He’s won nearly every individual and team award that you can win on every level, and there’s not really anything left for him to do in that context.
“If this ends up being the end of his career, he’s certainly had a great one.”
The Packers posted a statement with the news of Clifton’s release.
“Chad is a great Packer and has been an integral part of our success over the past 12 seasons,” Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson said. “He was a member of some of the most prolific offenses in team history but, more importantly, he is a great person and teammate. We thank Chad for all that he has given the Packers on the field and in the community and wish him and his family well.” Published in The Messenger 4.24.12