I must say I was surprised by the press release from the Green Bay Packers yesterday that Ryan Longwell had signed a one-day contract with the team so he could "retire a Packer". Quite honestly, I thought Ryan Longwell retired a couple of years ago. I also couldn't believe that Ted Thompson would take part in such nostalgic bull hockey.
We can blame Roger Craig and the San Francisco 49ers for what is truly the Stupidest Thing In Sports--the one-day retirement contract. Craig was a running back during the glory days of the Niners who couldn't accept that his talents had diminished and played out the string as an ineffective back for the Raiders and the Vikings before finally deciding to hang it up. He said that he wanted to "retire a 49er 'for the fans'". Yes, I'm sure Niners fans couldn't sleep for the couple of years Craig was playing elsewhere, fearing that he would "retire a Raider" or "Retire a Viking". It must have been a similar sentiment among Packers Nation as well "I sure hope Ryan Longwell doesn't retire a Viking, I'll be heartbroken!"
St Vince Lombardi certainly wouldn't have done this. He allowed Paul Horning--his all-time favorite player and a Hall of Famer--to be taken by New Orleans in the expansion draft--and later traded fellow HOF'er Jim Taylor to the Saints. Horning retired during training camp because of a neck injury and Taylor played a year in the Big Easy. Do you consider them to be any less of a "Packers Legend" because they didn't have a press conference at Lambeau Field? Bart Starr "retired a Packer" as did Donald Driver--because they never left for any other place. (Although by the logic of the one day contract, Driver could be considered to have retired a "punt coverage guy".)
And is Ryan Longwell really that special of a player to even consider for "such an honor"? Sure he's the franchise's all-time leading scorer--but I wouldn't consider him one of the best kickers of his generation. Who would you put below Longwell in this list of contemporaries: Adam Vinatieri, Jason Elam, Jason Hanson, Morten Anderson, and Mike VanderJagt? I'd take any of those guys over Longwell for a long game-winning kick in the clutch.
But don't let my cynicism ruin your celebration of Ryan Longwell's retirement "as a Packer", Green Bay fans. I just hope Rock Garden Supper Club will still be around to accept my application in 15-years so I can "retire a dishwasher".